Two Rochdale labourers who were turned away by scores of potential employers are laying the foundations for long-term careers after having gained jobs with Rochdale town centre demolition contractors, Connell Brothers Ltd.
Between them, Dave McGuiness and Tom Mitchell were unemployed for ten years and six months before they landed jobs on one of the biggest demolition projects Rochdale has seen.
Dave (60), from Newbold, was out of work for ten years after picking up an injury and numerous illnesses which took him in and out of hospital.
”I was receiving incapacity allowance, but in February I decided I’d had enough. I really wanted to get back into work. I tried lots of different places but the response was always ‘we’re looking for younger people.’ When I saw the work that was taking place in the town centre I came down every day for two weeks asking for work and when they were ready to take new people on, they gave me the job” he said.
“Since l started this job, I’ve never looked back. I was diagnosed with depression when I wasn’t working, but I feel fine now. Being out every day and spending time with other people has been a big boost and I’ve got my self esteem back.”
Tom Mitchell (23), who lives in the town centre, was applying for 20 roles a week for six months before he trained as a labourer and landed at job on the town centre site.
He said: “I was applying for anything and everything, supermarkets, shops, you name it, but I wasn’t getting anywhere. It was really depressing because you’d apply and get turned down and then a few weeks later you’d see the post being advertised again. Having this job means a lot to me because I’ve just moved into a flat with my girlfriend so we can start planning for the future. It’s good not to have to ration money and go out and spend if I want to.”
Of the 21 labourers working on the demolition site, nearly a quarter are from the local area, with five workers hailing from Rochdale borough.
The project has seen the demolition of the old bus station and multi storey car park, as well as the old St Andrews Church and Broadwater Centre. The old Municipal Offices will be down by the end of October this year.
The site has been cleared to make way for the town centre east scheme, a £50m retail and leisure development containing shops, restaurants and a cinema.
Steve Balyski, Commercial Manager at Connell Brothers Ltd, said: “We always recruit locally where we can and if these employees do a good job, they will be offered the chance to come to the next job with us so they don’t have to look for another role elsewhere. This industry requires people to move around a lot and not everybody can do that, but if they can show they have experience of working on a site like this, it will stand them in good stead to get another job somewhere else. Tom and Dave have been great workers and l’m confident they’ll both stay in employment long term now they’ve been given the chance to show what they can do.”
Councillor Peter Williams, Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Employment at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “The physical regeneration of Rochdale town centre is going really well, but behind this are many personal stories like those of Dave and Tom which are really encouraging. This regeneration of Rochdale is not just about the long term goal of creating a fantastic town centre but also about providing solid job opportunities for the many talented people in our borough.”
Anyone who would like to keep up to date with developments in the town centre can visit: www.rochdaletowncentre.com