Six former steelworkers are once again on the ground at the former Redcar steelworks site after securing jobs with Hall Construction Services to remediate land as part of the Teesworks redevelopment.
Hall is carrying out works on the Southbank area of the site to help prepare it for future investment and one of its employees, Ray Milner, said he jumped at the chance to come back to his hometown and be based on the site again.
He said: “I was working for SSI five years ago as a plant operator. When the site closed due to liquidation, I got on my bike and went looking for work elsewhere.
“I ended up in Aberdeen working on a big bypass for two years and then went down to the nuclear power station Hinkley Point for two years. I did a year with Balfour Beatty and then my CV was picked out and Andy Blighe from Hall said: “Would you like to come home?”
“This is great for the area, it’s fantastic – out with the old and in with the new. With all this here, the river, all the infrastructure, we can give the area back and give people and the community some excellent opportunities for work.”
Another former worker at the site, Paul Chambers, found new employment with Hall via the region’s Routes to Work scheme.
The £7.5m pilot, which helps unemployed over-30s who need the most help to get back into work, has smashed its targets, already engaging with more than 2,800 people and helping 488 back into employment.
This is against its aim of 2,500 engaged and get 375 back into employment by March 2021.
Paul is one of those success stories who linked up with to Routes to Work after being out of employment for almost a year.
Health conditions and a run of personal bad luck led to contact with the initiative and now he couldn’t be happier.
Paul said: “When I first got in touch with my Routes to Work key worker, a girl called Trina, I was out of work with arthritis in my foot, had to move out of my home and it was a hard time.
“Before this, I was always fit, active and in a job, so being unemployed was a massive blow that was part of a downward spiral.
“With the help of Routes to Work I was given the confidence to put myself back out there for jobs. It helped me gain training and a licence for an articulated dumper, which led to the work with Hall.
“I’ve worked here myself previously at the ore terminal, and my brothers have worked here. I live in Middlesbrough so it’s half an hour from home and I love driving my dumper – it’s perfect.”
Along with Ray and Paul, John Muirhead, Richie White, Shane Laughman and Lee Dudley have also shared their experiences on a series of video interviews which will now be shared at Teesworks.co.uk.
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said: “I’m absolutely blown away that former steelworkers are once again working on the former Redcar steelworks site, this is why redeveloping the site is so important and why it’s a key part of my plan for jobs.
“The closure of our steelworks was devastating, but to see these guys back home and working onsite is testament to everything we’re trying to do in the region and the grit and determination that set our workers apart.
“Teesworks is already creating local jobs for local people, in some of these cases bringing expertise back into the area and helping workers relocate to where they call home.
“We talk a lot about creating jobs for the future, but we can’t lose sight of those who have worked here for decades but have found themselves out of work. That’s why we’re getting moving on land remediation now, creating 775 jobs over the next 12 months.
“Routes to Work, too, has broken all of its targets and been doing a fantastic job of targeting people who need help most.
“It’s helped give hundreds of people the self-belief, skills and training they need to get back into the jobs market and have a rewarding career.”