07 August 2008

New opportunity in the workplace

THE Remploy factory in Poole, which has disabled staff, has been the focus of attention in recent months over a battle to secure its future.

The reports reminded Margaret Stark, née Linch, of the 1950s when her father Alfred was employed at the factory which was set up under the 1944 Disabled Persons (Employment) Act by Ernest Bevin, then Minister of Labour.

The company was formally founded in April 1945, and the first Remploy factory opened in 1946 making furniture and violins at Bridgend in South Wales where many of the workers were disabled ex-miners.

The name was derived from the word "re-employ" and adopted in 1946 as Remploy, until then called the Disabled Persons Employment Corporation.

The company went on to develop factories throughout the UK where school furniture, motor components and chemical, biological and nuclear protection suits for police and military in Britain and overseas were manufactured.

With the decline in manufacturing in the UK in the 1980s Remploy looked at other ways of employing disabled people and expanded into the service sector, creating businesses such as E-Cycle and helping people find work with other companies.

They offer advice, pre-employment training, employment opportunities and support for disabled people and those with a health condition, and also employers on relevant issues in the workplace.

Margaret, who lives in Wimborne Road, Bournemouth, worked at Remploy for two years in the early 50s as one of the able-bodied staff before she married Michael.

Her father Alfred lived in Trafalgar Road as a boy and when he became a postman in the Winton area lived in Moordown until he had to give up his job because of ill health.

He then became a verger at St Marks' Church, Talbot Village, and when his health worsened he got a job at Remploy.

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