IN the wake of the closure announcement of the Rio Tinto Alcan’s Lynemouth smelter, the company has set about doing all it can to mitigate the effect of redundancies.
The on-site careers centre – situated in a portacabin which previously housed an office – was set up with the help of careers transition company DBM which assisted those affected my the closure of a similar plant in Anglesey.
The centre is now a hub of activity as the majority of the plant’s 515 workers face up to being out of a job at the end of March, offering advice on job hunting as well self employment, workshops and retraining opportunities.
Hazel Krzyzanowski, a secretary in the casting plant for the last 13 years, is one of those who have 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 at Woodhorn Museum, have been affected by redundancy twice before.
She said: “I dreaded going back on the jobs market – it was just 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 sell 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.”
More in next week’s News Post Leader.