Please Credit Picture:Keith Taylor

A former Steelworker, who was made redundant following the collapse of SSI UK, has set up his own sport coaching business having secured funding through the SSI Task Force.

Andy Baker, 42, from Middlesbrough, was left devastated when SSI UK was liquidated in October last year, ending what he thought was a job for life.

Hearing of the various Task Force Funds available in the media, Andy contacted his local Job Centre Plus to find out more information.

He very quickly saw the closure as an opportunity to fulfil a dream and set up Velocity Sports Coaching.

Over the last eight years, he has volunteered as a football coach at Nunthorpe Athletic and has always had a passionate for coaching.

Andy said: “I thought it would be great to make a career out of a hobby. I will be working in local schools to deliver coaching for children aged between 5- 11 and my wife Claire is planning to get involved to help grow the business.

“Applying for the SSI Task Force Business Advice Start Up Fund was brilliant, it was very easy and I felt very supported by my mentor who helped me to develop my business plan. From submitting the plan to receiving the grant it only took a week. I was amazed at how quickly it all worked. I’d certainly recommend the scheme to anyone it was first class.”

Amanda Skelton, Chair of the SSI Task Force, added: “It’s not unusual for someone to decide that they want a complete change of career after being made redundant, and I am pleased that Task Force funding has been able to support Andy to do something that he is passionate about. The funds are there to support both individuals and businesses, and I would encourage people to get in touch to see how we can help.”

Jonathan Armitage, Andy’s Business Adviser, added: “This fund has been amazing in its flexibility, it has been great to be able to work with and offer former SSI workers advice on starting their own business. The grant scheme which could provide a start-up grant of up to £10,000 to help make a business a real opportunity, has been invaluable in helping lots of people affected by the SSI closure work towards and actually start their own business.”

The Business Advice Start Up Fund administered by NEEAL has already proven extremely popular with more 200 people receiving advice and guidance and nearly £300,000 of funding awarded to 46 people starting their own business.

Anyone interested in the scheme and looking for further information should contact NEEAL on 0191 516 6093 or visit http://www.teesbusinesscompass.co.uk/