The shock closure of holiday firm Thomas Cook has seen the community rally around to help hundreds of adrift workers get back on their feet.
Last Monday, the holiday giant closed suddenly after 178 years, cancelling flights, stranding holidaymakers and leaving thousands of staff members unemployed.
Worthing’s Chapel Road branch bade farewell to its 11 employees, and hundreds of airline staff who commuted from West Sussex to surrounding airports were also left without jobs. But from the sadness and uncertainty came stories of the community coming together to support those affected.
On Tuesday, Cocks Kitchen in Worthing’s Brighton Road put on a free builders’ breakfast for around 50 former Thomas Cook employees.
Owner Jason Earl said he wanted to help them stretch their final pay cheques as far as possible.
“I love the fact the community’s coming together,” he said.
“I’ve worked in the airline industry and I know how tough it can be.
“It’s nice that people are coming together – to lose your job at this time of year, with no guarantees or anything, it’s awful.”
With former employees suddenly plunged into a world of job applications and interviews, two local companies have offered free childcare to new jobseekers.
Clair Freemantle, owner of Sticky Fingers Childcare, and Tracey Wakelin of Tracey Wakelin Childcare Services, have both offered two hours free childcare for former employees to attend interviews.
Tracey said in times like these it was important for people to do what they can do help.
Media company Chambers Media, which has its offices directly above the Thomas Cook branch in Worthing, has also stepped in to help.
On the day of the closure, a note was left on the front door of the store signed by 11 staff members, which said: “We are so sorry and would like to thank all of our customers for their support, right until the end.”
Chambers Media’s Ben Chambers took to social media in response to the ‘sad, emotive note’ and offered all staff use of his company’s facilities for use on CVs and job applications.
Local hairdresser Centre Stage has also been offering free cuts and finishes for former Thomas Cook employees.