70 workers still looking for jobs

Garlands

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AROUND 70 former Garlands workers have still got to find jobs in Hartlepool, the Mail has learned.

Campaigners have described it as proof that the town’s strong support network paid dividends in the days and weeks after the call centre went into administration.

After the call centre’s collapse, 621 people lost their jobs in Hartlepool and 301 former Garlands workers claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance in the town.

Of those, 239 are no longer claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Anthony Steinberg, economic development manager at Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “It is not always possible to say they are in work or have ceased claiming for other reasons, but we feel that all or most of them are in employment.

“A lot of organisations worked in partnership to help deliver positive outcomes.

“For example, we worked very closely with Jobcentre Plus and other partners including the community sector. It just demonstrates the benefits of working together.”

A widespread package of help was given to workers as soon as the news of Garlands redundancies was revealed.

Help was offered on the type of benefits to claim, how to get skills training and practical help with CVs.

Local training programmes were made available and job fairs were held to explain the types of posts available.

Garlands staff were also given help if they wanted to go into business for themselves. They were assessed on their skills and given advice how to access money to help them cope with the costs of getting to interviews, or to pay for tools and equipment.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson, on behalf of JobCentre Plus said: “JobCentre Plus worked with Garlands to offer tailored support for people affected by the announcement.”

She said that support was still available and added: “Anyone looking for a job can go online to Directgov where all of our vacancies are posted along with a wide range of hints and tips on getting back to work.”

As soon as redundancies are announced, JobCentre Plus offers tailored support to employers through its Rapid Response Service. Employees can get specialist advice and a range of practical support to help them back into work as soon as possible.

People wanting more information can access www.direct.gov.uk

Price Waterhouse Coopers have extended the period of administration until Thursday, November 17 this year, and then expect Garlands to be wound up.

Sean Hamilton, director of PwC Newcastle, said: “The property has been handed back to the landlords.

“The administration has been extended to November 17. Our expectation is that the company will be dissolved thereafter.

“We are not expecting to pay any dividend to unsecured creditors to the company.”

Ms Garland declined the opportunity to comment despite several attempts by the Mail.

A FED-UP former Garlands worker is on the verge of quitting Hartlepool after a fruitless 12-month search for employment.

Single dad-of-two Mark Dobson, 48, has applied for more than 100 jobs since he was laid off exactly a year ago along with 620 other staff at the Hartlepool Marina call centre.

“It is totally disheartening and totally frustrating,” said Mark.

“I have sent off applications for care homes, factories, bars and in healthcare. I have sent off for office jobs on minimum wages,” said the Central Estate resident.

“Only one company has bothered to even do me the courtesy of replying. I have had no paid work since Garlands.

“I am thinking of leaving Hartlepool and going to London. I don’t really want to do it, but it is getting that desperate.

“I am 48. I am spending five to six hours on the paperwork for each job and they are jobs I could do in my sleep. And then I don’t even get replies.”

Admitting that he could quit the town because of the lack of new jobs, Mark added: “I can’t see it changing. At least there’s a better chance of work in London even if the cost of living is higher.”

Mark has gone from a full-time Garlands customer service adviser to a man on £65-a-week Jobseeker’s Allowance.

“The money goes nowhere,” he said. “I am left with £26-a-week to live on by the time I have paid the bills.

“I have to buy food and clothes. I have to keep a phone going because you have to have some way of looking for work.”

Mark, of Firby Close. Hartlepool, has done his utmost to improve his employment prospects.

He has spent his time since being laid off on picking up extra qualifications in youth work and child protection.

He is also doing 20-hours-a-week in voluntary work yet ironically, even that is drying up because the charity he supports is struggling with funding.

Now London beckons and Mark said: “You don’t mind upping and quitting and spending nights on a mate’s floor in London when you are a teenager.

“But I am in my 40s now and it’s a different matter.”

He says he is not the only one in the same position and some are worse off.

Mark used his Garlands redundancy pay to settle credit card bills and an overdraft.

“I have got no debt, but I know people who worked there who have lost houses and others who have got bailiffs knocking at the door.

“Personally, I can’t live like this for another 12 months so I am thinking of moving.”

l ANYONE who can offer Mark a job can contact the Mail on (01429) 239381 or email: mail.news@northeast-press.co.uk