The people of Teesside are enormously proud of the areas long steelmaking tradition, a pride passed down from generation to generation for more than a century. I count myself amongst the many people who share an affinity for our local heritage, to the brave working class souls who poured their blood, sweat and tears into making Teesside a bubbling Infant Hercules. Believe it or not this nation was built on the back of Teesside steel, long stretches of railway that connected our great towns and cities, buildings and celebrated structures (even as far as Sydney) bare the stamp “MADE IN TEESSIDE”.
Teesside is one large community, we share success and defeat together. No one is left unwounded when our great industrial base is dealt a swift blow. Yet time after time, generation after generation, the people of Teesside have kept the flame alive and we do so again today. As 4000+ jobs are put at risk at the SSI plant in Redcar, either through direct employment or partnering businesses, it would be an injustice not to stand and fight. The people of Teesside are not just fighting for steel, we are campaigning for jobs, the health of our local economy and for the future of this area. To lose so many jobs at SSI would be a tragedy, it would jeopardise jobs right across our community who depend on the economic stability that these jobs provide. Including the jobs at SSI, not to mention the 150 already lost at the South Bank coke ovens, at least another 2000 could are threatened as a knock-on effect…in an area that already has one of the largest unemployment rates in the country. The fight is bigger than myself or any other individual, but combine all our circumstances together there is great cause for concern. We don’t need words or even promises, what this crisis really needs is leadership and direct action. This action has already begun, grassroots protest has already caught the imagination of our community, we now need the spark that will rally our cause nationally and make those who have the power to get innovative. When Britain needed Teesside to help build our great nation, Teesside now needs Britain to help safeguard our community.
Whilst Teesside might be a distant land from the metropolitan sprawls, the area’s heart and passion is far brighter than any city lights. There is a spirit in Teesside, not always visible to visitors, but it is alive and kicking. We may be nicknamed the Smoggies, but it is a local term of endearment. Teesside has a proud heritage, but at this moment in time we are hurting. I am confident that with the right help and direction Teesside can blossom once more. The loss of a job doesn’t just effect the individual, their families feel the pinch, neighbourhoods suffer and the greater community is damaged.
Please help save our steel!
You can keep up-to-date with the current grassroots campaign at on Twitter @save_our_steel.
By James Metcalfe, Editor of Daily Political View.