Yesterday I was working at the second of two, day-long workshops for Retooled. Retooled is a project begun by a group of ex-Rover MG employees who were made redundant when the company went bust 5 years ago and aims to become a resource for those facing or going through redundancy:
We believe the best advice is contained within real people’s experiences, not in official support packs. We also realised that no matter what your job or industry, lots of us do go through similar emotions when we’re made redundant.
Our aim is to grow Retooled into a really useful resource for anyone around the world who is going through redundancy, or who is supporting a friend or relative in this situation.
To work with the team on building the Retooled website, Antonio Gould and Lizzie Ostrom (who are producing the project on behalf of Maverick) pulled together a group of digital mentors to help with web development, graphic design, photography, content and social media. I was their ‘social media person’, which just meant I introduced the group to some simple ways in which they can use the web to organise and communicate, with quite a few hyperlocal websites serving as examples of how to use easy social media tools to tell a community’s stories.
During yesterday’s session Retooled team member and ex-Rover employee Bob Oakley told us a particularly interesting story, about a quick-witted secretary who collected the names and details of everyone within her department before the factory closed for good. The information she gathered effectively kept the community that had built up around her department connected and proved to be enormously useful ‐ Bob himself said that he never would have found out he was entitled to an early pension (‘It was never announced’) unless someone he was in touch via the contact list had told him.
Community or ‘hyperlocal’ websites can be just as effective when based around communities of work as well as neighbourhoods, especially if the workplace that binds those people together is under threat. Everyone on the Retooled team agreed that their network of contacts was invaluable to them when going through redundancy and looking for a new job. A community website for the workplace could help keep that network intact after employment, and would be really useful in preventing isolation amongst workforces facing large-scale job losses.