Jus-Rol taskforce invites charity on board

Packet of Jus-Rol frozen pastry from General Mills
Packet of Jus-Rol frozen pastry from General Mills

A Berwick scheme that has helped hundreds of people back into work has now been included in the taskforce set up to help Jus-Rol workers.

The Here for You project run by Berwick Community Trust had requested its inclusion after initially being left out.

The charity, as the only Berwick-based service offering this support, is anticipating a key role in helping people who will be made redundant over the coming months.

A taskforce spokesperson said: “We would stress that the offer of support from Berwick Community Trust was very much welcomed.

“An approach was made at the first taskforce meeting held in Berwick for the trust to be involved and the taskforce was in full agreement they should be co-opted onto the employee support group – a key part of the taskforce.

“We look forward to working with them as the taskforce continues to support those affected by the factory closure.”

Here for You project manager Becci Murray had expressed surprise at its initial exclusion given the work it has done to helpworkers from Seton Hall and Burgons of Eyemouth over the last few months.

The multi-agency taskforce also comprises Northumberland County Council, Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Berwick Town Council, Arch, Job Centre Plus and other business groups.

The closure of the pastry factory by the autumn, with the loss of 265 jobs, is expected to have a devastating impact on workers, their families and the wider economy.

“It’s going to be an economic disaster for Berwick,” said Becci. “There’s no getting away from the fact it will have a huge knock-on effect for Berwick in terms of the disposable income people have.”

However, Here for You will try to do its bit to lessen the impact. Working with the National Careers Service, the project has already been involved in helping explain Department of Work and Pensions protocol to Jus-Rol staff.

It has also held preliminary discussions with Jus-Rol to try to work out a programme of support for the staff who will lose their jobs.

“We’ve already had discussions about what additional services can be put in place to support the people that are going to be made redundant,” said Becci.

“We’d like to go in there again and explain to the workers how we can help and outline the support there is for them.

“Those conversations are still at an early stage though. The Here for You scheme only operates three days a week at the moment and has limited funding so we hope Jus-Rol can offer us some sort of financial support. That would enable us to best make sure that everyone has an appropriate level of support.”

Since the Here for You scheme started in January 2013, it has helped 740 people.

To date, it can boast 347 job outcomes and has helped numerous others into training. Much of this is seasonal employment, given the nature of the local economy.

Here for You has also become an accredited training centre through the National Open College Network. It is also hoping to launch a customer service training course which is not available locally.

“Our work is incredibly varied,” said Becci. “A lot of our work can be helping people to fill in their CV, to get training, develop their IT skills or whichever direction they want their career to take.”