Disabled former factory staff aim to bounce back from closures with social enterprise

A GROUP of former factory workers, who lost their jobs as part of nationwide Remploy closures last year, are aiming to inspire the next generation of disabled workers.

MP Ed Balls at the Enabled Works in Morley

After being made redundant from posts in Leeds and Pontefract, 12 former staff have opened up a social enterprise to give disabled people work opportunities.

Each member of the collective invested £5,000 of their redundancy pay to create the Enabled Works not-for-profit working co-operative, which was officially opened by Morley and Outwood MP Ed Balls yesterday.

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The collective, housed in a two-storey factory and office space in Howley Park Road, Morley, aims to employ 40 people in electrical assembly, warehousing and storage as Remploy did, as well as offering training in areas such as IT.

John Wormald, who was made redundant from Remploy’s Pontefract site after 26 years, is a member of the co-operative.

Now business development director at Enabled Works, Mr Wormald, who has cerebral palsy, said: “There was a lot of uncertainty and hurt from our point of view, but if we can put some positive vibe into proving this model can work it will inspire people and other businesses.”

The brainchild of former workers Tina Brown and Tony Gledhill, it already provides work for about 20 staff and volunteers with differing disabilities.

Mr Balls said: “I’m delighted to have a new award-winning co-operative factory, owned and run by the workers themselves, open in my constituency.”

Last year 27 Remploy factories closed as a result of a controversial switch in Government spending.