Redundancy – just the word can strike fear into the heart of everyone who relies on their income to pay their bills each month.

But it’s more than the threat of financial ruin – for many people their “steady” job is part of their identity and losing that security really pulls the rug out from under their feet and leaves them reeling.

Just over three years ago now, I was in that very position. I was happily working as deputy news editor at the local newspapers in my home town when the threat of a major restructure loomed.

But, as it turned out, taking voluntary redundancy was probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

My story was recently featured in an article in Reader’s Digest along with two other women who believe redundancy changed their lives for their better.

This is just my part of it, but you can find the complete article here.

Tracey Sweetland was working as a deputy news editor at her local papers, the Lincolnshire Free Press and Spalding Guardian when she discovered redundancies were on the cards. Tracey explains, “I was quite happy there and enjoying the job, so I had no plans to leave.”  

Fate had other ideas. “I was told that the role of deputy news editor was likely to be lost as part of the restructure, but that I would have the opportunity to apply for one of a reduced number of reporters jobs,” she says. “I was fairly confident I would get one of those reporter roles, but I enjoyed the more varied role I was currently doing, so didn’t relish the idea of returning to a straightforward reporting role.”

“I was very concerned about what other options were available to me if I took voluntary redundancy. I am a single mum of two young children and couldn’t contemplate a long commute to work which would impact on my childcare arrangements, so I was restricted to a small geographical area and opportunities for people with my skill set are few and far between locally.”

I am a single mum of two young children. Opportunities for people with my skill set are few and far between locally

Unconvinced by the potential roles on offer, Tracey took voluntary redundancy. While looking into her options, a conversation with the paper’s news editor, who was also taking voluntary redundancy, triggered the start of a plan to set up their own paper. “It almost started out as a joke but the more we thought about it and toyed with it, the more it seemed like a realistic suggestion,” she says. “We felt that we had access to the right team to make the project a success and we felt there was capacity in the town for another newspaper.”

And so they set the wheels in motion. “It was obviously absolutely terrifying, particularly as we had to press ahead and put things in place in secret while we were still working at the papers and waiting to be approved for voluntary redundancy. But it was a very exciting and busy time and things moved quickly.”

Their redundancies were approved and Tracey, along with three former colleagues, became partners in their own paper – Spalding and South Holland Voice. “I think without redundancy we would have been too afraid to turn our backs on a guaranteed monthly salary to quit our jobs and give it a go. The voluntary redundancy payments we received also enabled us to invest in getting the business started – we would probably not have been in a position to do that otherwise.”