IN the wake of the closure announcement of the Rio Tinto Alcan Lynemouth smelter, the company has begun offering support to those facing redundancy.
The on-site careers centre, situated in a mobile unit which previously housed an office, was set up with the help of transition company DBM, which assisted those affected by the closure of a similar plant in Anglesey.
The centre is now a hub of activity as the majority of the site’s 515 workers face up to being out of work at the end of this month.
It offers advice on job-hunting, as well self-employment, workshops and retraining opportunities.
DBM lead consultant Tina Rumble, who helped set up the careers’ centre, said: “I’ve been involved with Rio Tinto Alcan for a couple of years now.
“We did a similar project over at Anglesey where we supported several hundred people into finding different work or getting into retirement or self-employment.
“Because of the success of that project, we were invited to support people here when it looked like there was going to be mass redundancies.”
Hazel Krzyzanowski, a secretary in the casting plant for the last 13 years, is one of those employees who has decided to go it alone rather then look for another job.
The grandmother from Bedlington is taking the opportunity to concentrate on her passion for cake decorating, something that she has enjoyed for more than 25 years.
Hazel, 55, said: “I nearly set up a business in the 80s, but it wasn’t really the right time as I had two small children. I have always had a passion for it but I have never really been able to do it, maybe this is the time.”
Hazel and husband John, 58, a former engineer who now works in the archives department at Woodhorn Museum, have faced redundancy twice before.
She said: “I dreaded going back on the jobs market — it was the thought of going to interviews and fitting in with a new team. I just didn’t want to do it.
“I’m working on a business plan. I’m planning on making cakes for weddings, christenings and birthdays and also selling equipment. You’ve got to move on when something like this happens, you can’t just curl up in a corner.”
Hazel, who has a City & Guilds qualification in cake decorating, is now hoping to attend a course in Surrey with the help of Alcan to learn more about chocolatier work.
Pot-room maintenance engineer Stephen Briggs has also used the careers centre, however, unlike Hazel, he is hoping to find another job in maintenance.
The 39-year-old, of Stakeford, said: “At the moment I’m just looking for work, applying to the agencies and applying for jobs. I’m getting two to three CVs together, bespoke to different fields.
“I’m lucky in as much as I’m from a maintenance background and there seems to be a lot of work in maintenance at the minute.”
Rio Tinto Alcan Corporate Affairs Director John McCabe said aside from looking for work here, some employees have shown an interest in transferring to the company’s plants as far afield as Canada, Australia and Cameroon.
Voluntary redundancies at the adjacent Lynemouth power station, which were over subscribed, have also meant that 12 smelter workers have been able to transfer there.