A social enterprise aiming to support hundreds of thousands of door supervisors and security workers across the UK launched in Gateshead.
The Security Professionals Support Co-operative (SPSC), created by four North East entrepreneurs, has been set up to tackle the many challenges currently faced by security staff.
The group has taken up over 1,500 sq ft of office space at the Stonehills complex in Gateshead’s Bill Quay. It will initially employ around eight people at its North East HQ in IT, admin and training roles.
The SPSC plans to grow its team and roll out new offices in Scotland, southern England, the North West and the Midlands in the next two to three years, aiming to reach the UK’s estimated 425,000 security personnel.
It will offer training opportunities and employment support, as well as seeking to improve industry standards and lobbying for better wages and conditions. The membership group will also help ex-service and unemployed people to access rewarding careers in the security industry.
Additional support will come from the numerous businesses that have agreed to offer bespoke and heavily discounted services, such as accountancy and insurance, to SPSC members.
Co-founder Rob Dixon, and owner of Washington-based Kelco’s Security, which has over 70 security personnel on its books, says: “Having operated a security business in the North East for over a decade, I’ve recently seen the industry hit an all-time low. Demand is going up and risks and dangers are changing, but personal support and development are not moving with the times. There is no support network for self-employed individuals, who are sometimes exploited by venue owners paying below minimum wage and are under pressure to deal with a range of threats.
Director Michael O’Donnell, a former Royal Marine who now runs engraving business Advanced Engravers in Washington, adds: “We want to invest in the person on the coalface. We want to make them feel proud of what they are doing and support them through adequate training and affordable access to important services like legal representation, insurance and accountancy. Fundamentally, security professionals are on the frontline, protecting the public but, increasingly, their ability to do so is being seriously inhibited. We need to change that.”
The SPSC launch has been welcomed by the Mayor of Gateshead, Councillor Jill Green, who says: “It’s great to see such a promising business choose Gateshead as its base and working with unemployed and ex-servicemen, which can only help the borough as a whole improve on employment rates.”
Rob co-founded the SPSC alongside his wife Stacey, who runs the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Boldon. Completing the senior team is head of training, Rob Storey.
Serving an ambassadorial role, meanwhile, is Malcolm Gerrie, the TV producer behind The Tube and Whizz Kid Entertainment, which regularly produces TV events such as BAFTA’s British Academy Film Awards.
His involvement stems from a close working relationship with Rob Dixon on various high-security projects over the years – and a recognition of security’s vital role in the entertainment business.
Following initial investment from the SPSC’s founders, ongoing funds for the not-for-profit will largely come from membership fees.
The support of businesses will also be crucial. Among several firms already on-board is Labour 4U, which is providing funding and support for training and an unemployment programme. Others involved include Real Insurance, which is providing members with affordable insurance services, and legal business My Defence Ltd, which will also offer specially discounted services.
Also signed up is accountancy group Abacus Accounting, whose chairman Steve Jackson says: “The passion and drive of the directors to make a success of the business is the selling point for us. They are dedicated to improving the service provided by security teams and their relationships with the police and other organisations. This can only be good for all involved and the general public at large.”
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