SSI Task Force Funding has helped former worker Alan Thomas become the 250th individual to realise dreams of self-employment.

Alan, 59, was formerly employed as a process technician at SSI before it closed and he was hit with redundancy. In a career spanning 30 years at ICI followed by four years at SSI, Alan had a substantial skill-set under his belt that he realised would kick-start his new business as a plumbing and heating engineer, trading as Alan Thomas Plumbing & Heating Ltd.

Alan needed advice and some financial support to get his business idea off the ground and was inspired by the SSI Task Force Fund to source help on everything from drafting a business plan to sound financial planning.

Alan said: “I can’t thank the Task Force enough for all the advice and support they have provided. It’s been invaluable and has really helped to give my new business the boost it required. I’m looking forward to taking on staff and growing the business.”

Alan is now looking to employ apprentices as the demand for his company’s services is already starting to grow.

Amanda Skelton, Chief Executive of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and Chair of the SSI Task Force, said: “I’m delighted for Alan who like many others has shown real ambition and hard work in starting his own business.

“It was a devastating closure but I am pleased to report 18 months on the success of the Business Advice Start-up scheme. The resilience of the people and the entrepreneurial spirit has inspired us all through a difficult time.”

SSI Task Force Funding remains available for individuals and businesses affected by the closure and more information can be found by