Old venue, new beginning for former Remploy staff
IT was home from home for seven ex-Remploy workers today as they started a new working life at their old Swansea base as part of a workers' co-operative.
Accommodation Furniture Solutions Ltd (AFS Ltd) is initially employing the seven who have each invested their redundancy payments into the venture.
The new business will assemble and manufacture furniture and its owners already have ambitious plans to expand and offer more ex-colleagues a return to work.
Today's fresh start in Bruce Road, Fforestfach, follows last year's closure of the site which saw 49 disabled people made redundant between September and December.
Work was starting today on assembling kitchen furniture for the Manchester-based Richmond Cabinet Company for social housing clients.
Co-operative managing director Kevin Edwards said: "When the Remploy factory closed in 2012 we wanted to ensure that the high quality skills within the workforce weren't lost.
"With this new worker co-operative, we aim to develop a successful and profitable business and become a leading manufacturer and sub-contracting assembler within the UK market. As we grow, we intend to operate as a financially viable workers co-operative which supports our disabled and disadvantaged workforce and offers training and employment opportunities to the wider Swansea community".
Support has come from the Welsh Government and the Welsh Government Employer Support Grant, Wales Co-operative Centre, Collaborative Communities, Communities 2.0, Social Firms Wales, the Department of Work and Pensions and Unity Trust Bank.
In addition to the Richmond tie-up, AFS is already in discussions about contracts with local organisations.
Communities and Tackling Poverty Minister Jeff Cuthbert said: "We have worked tirelessly to help all those whose livelihoods were thrown into doubt and support Remploy workers to find new work and opportunities. That is why this new co-operative here in Swansea is such good news."