Yesterday I visited the Sutton High Street branch of BHS to express my disappointment that this much loved high street chain is closing down, and to offer whatever support I could to the staff needing to find new jobs.

I spoke to some of the employees and the manager there, all of whom said that one of the most upsetting things about the closure is not just losing their jobs, but no longer working with one another. Many were also concerned about finding new work, especially those who had been with BHS for over 20 years.

I was glad to hear that the Sutton Job Centre, which I also visited yesterday, had already been in touch and visited the store to help the staff navigate the benefit system if they have never claimed before, and to let them know what support they offer for finding new employment. I think this will be incredibly useful for older BHS employees who have been with them for many years, and who will be unfamiliar with the new benefits system and may feel nervous about finding new work.

It was also heartwarming to hear that other stores on the high street and beyond had come together to offer BHS staff a role in their stores. For example, M&S in Epsom has taken on a large number of former BHS staff to fill their vacancies. It is great to see businesses in the area supporting each other. If you an employer and may be interested in taking on a former BHS employee, then please get in touch.

Despite the unscrupulous nature of the BHS bosses and their actions, I was pleased to see the local branch manager had built a really strong team spirit and was doing her best by her employees. I wish them all the very best as the move on from BHS, but I’m sure I speak for many in Sutton that we are sorry to see them go.