THE church community in Larne is standing by to offer support and guidance to those affected by the huge swathe of job losses at FG Wilson.
That was the message this week from Rev Dr Colin McClure of First Larne Presbyterian Church, who has expressed his shock and sadness at the scale of the cuts and described it as a “massive blow” for the town.
But he has urged people to look to the future with hope, and feels that church leaders have a major role to play in helping to boost morale during these difficult times.
“The worst thing for a lot of people right now is the dreadful uncertainty, as many don’t know if their job will be one of the ones to go or not,” he added.
“The local community has been left stunned, but we have to set our sights on moving forward and engendering hope.
“Hundreds of people have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, which will make it especially painful for them. Regardless of how good they are at their jobs or how hard-working they are, the situation is beyond their control.
“But it is vital that these people don’t lose their sense of worth. I am anxious to do all I can to help those affected, and I am sure I am right in saying that my colleagues in other churches feel the same way,” he added.
Rev McClure highlighted that this was not the first time Larne has faced major job losses, and suggested that the local community may be more resilient as a result.
“Larne has been in this situation before, which means there will be some people who have already experienced this and are in a position to offer advice.
“But we don’t want resilience to turn into resignation, so the local church community will be here to help in whatever way we possibly can,” Rev McClure added.
Meanwhile, Church of Ireland rector of Larne and Inver, the Ven Stephen Forde, has also offered his support to those impacted by the jobs cull at FG Wilson.
In a joint statement with the Right Rev Alan Abernethy, Bishop of Connor, he said: “News of the loss of 760 jobs comes as a severe blow for the communities of Larne and Monkstown in East Antrim, and also the community in West Belfast. At this time of rising unemployment, the loss of any person’s job is devastating for individuals, families and the wider community.
“The Church of Ireland, ministering through its local parishes and the Diocese of Connor and in co-operation with other churches, offers its support to every individual affected by this news.
“We also encourage local elected representatives and the Northern Ireland Executive to do everything within their power to reduce the impact of these job losses, and create new job opportunities for this highly skilled workforce,” Rev Forde concluded.