*** DEBUG END ***

A ‘sense of doom’ hangs over steel town

22 January 2016


On the move: workers on an on-site train at the Tata steel plant in Port Talbot, on Monday

On the move: workers on an on-site train at the Tata steel plant in Port Talbot, on Monday

THE Vicar of Port Talbot, the Revd Mark Williams, whose parish St Theodore’s encompasses the Port Talbot steelworks, spoke this week of the "sense of doom and uncertainty" hanging over the town after the news that 750 jobs at the plant are to go.

Mr Williams, son of a Port Talbot steelworker, said: "At the moment nobody knows who’s losing their job, or in what areas the losses will be targeted.

"It affects a much wider community than just Port Talbot; a lot of people who were transferred from steel plants at Llanwern, Newport, or Ebbw Vale, travel in some distance, and suppliers and contractors will also be affected."

The redundancies are part of 1050 job losses announced by Tata Steel at its plants in south Wales and elsewhere in the UK. A 45-day consultation period started this week.

"It is all an uncertain thing at the moment," Mr Williams said on Tuesday. "They are all waiting for further news, which casts an air of gloom over the place. We should know by the end of February. But we are here for them and offering our prayerful support. We don’t know yet quite what other support to offer as we don’t know what will be needed. But there is keenness on all sides to get it sorted as soon as possible; no one wants it dragging on."

The Assistant Bishop of Llandaff, the Rt Revd David Wilbourne, has offered a free debt-counselling service through the charity Christians Against Poverty. He said in a statement: "Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with those affected. Our parish priests in the town are, as ever, available to give support, not least to offer prayer and a listening and sympathetic ear."


The Team Rector of Aberavon, Canon Nigel Cahill, said that people feared further redundancies. "There is great concern about the knock-on effect on Tata’s contractors in the area, and people are also worried there will be further job losses announced in the future. Our churches are there to support and help all affected, either through prayer or through practical means such as debt advice."

Rick Hayes, a part-time industrial chaplain funded by Tata, whose job as a training co-ordinator with the company is at risk, said on Tuesday: "Everybody knew it was coming, but once it was in black-and-white in front of us, it was still a shock.

"We have an in-house counsellor who people can talk to confidentially; and I can be a listening post, show that there is somebody who cares. I can point to areas of help, see what sort of retraining courses can be found, and show them they do have transferable skills."

In a statement to the House of Commons, the Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise, Anna Soubry, said: "We have seen today that the steel industry remains subject to unprecedented global pressures. . . I can assure the House that we continue to do all we can to help this industry, and we will stand by all the workers who face redundancy in South Wales and other parts of the United Kingdom."

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available


Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)