Charity emergency fund to help Channel islanders

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The Independent Online

A charity in Guernsey has set up an emergency fund to help fellow Channel islanders who lost their jobs when the billionaire Barclay brothers closed down their operations on Sark in protest at the result of elections there this week.

Neil Inder, a 42-year-old charity worker from St Peter Port, said he felt compelled to start an emergency relief fund to help those who were made unemployed on Thursday survive through the winter. The appeal was launched yesterday on the website PSE KEEP and has already raised £900.

“Our islands have survived for hundreds of years and there is an immense feeling of solidarity between Channel islanders,” Mr Inder said. “We had one old lady who donated £250. People are angry that the Barclay brothers asked for more democracy on Sark and then walked away when they didn't get the result they wanted.”

An estimated 30 to 40 full time workers were made redundant on Thursday alongside a further 40 part-time staff when the billionaire owners of the Ritz and Telegraph newspapers announced they were halting their investments in Sark. The brothers own a number of hotels, shops and restaurants on the tiny Channel Island which has a population of just 600 and had long campaigned for greater democracy on the island.

But the day before the job losses Sark islanders had voted overwhelmingly in favour of candidates who were largely opposed to the Barclay brothers' investment in Sark during the island's first fully democratic elections.

Paul Amorgie, an independent hotel owner who was elected to the island's 28-seat legislative body, said Sark's Chamber of Commerce would hold an emergency meeting on Monday to try and find jobs for those who had lost their jobs. He said: “There's no job shop on the island per se but we'll make sure we've got a list of all those who are unemployed and a list of skill sets in order to find them employment as soon as possible.”

Surprisingly many of those who lost their jobs blame those who voted for anti-Barclay candidates rather than their employers who sacked them on.

Many islanders yesterday said Sark's economy would continue with or without the Barclay's investment.

“What many don't understand is that for the past 400 years this little island community has survived perfectly well without major investment or development,” said Peter Gabriel-Byrne, a construction worker and musician who moved to Sark five years ago and married a native. “It's a close-knit community where people look out for each other and we'll keep on doing that.”