Redundancy Isn't the End of the World for Everyone; We May Still Be Feeling the Squeeze, but a Conference Coming to Newcastle This Month Shows the Recession Can Be a Springboard to Entrepreneurship. JOANNE BUTCHER Meets Three People Who Have Had Drastic Career Overhauls

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Byline: JOANNE BUTCHER

REDUNDANCY is a terrifying prospect, and one which the credit crunch is bringing to an increasing number of s families.

In the three months up to November last year, an extra 7,000 people on Tyneside lost their jobs, bringing unemployment rates to 9.8%.

But for some, losing a regular career is not the end - it's an exciting opportunity to strike out alone.

Former journalist Anna Harris discovered a new business venture when she took voluntary redundancy. Alongside her father John Lognonn, the ex-farming correspondent set up The Grape Unknown, a wine importing company based at the family farm near Hexham, Northumberland.

"It seemed the right time to move on when redundancies were offered," said the 38-year-old, a mum to John, six, and Elizabeth, two.

"Dad wanted something to supplement the farm and he loves wine and travelling. As I was leaving my job, I decided to join him.

"I am no wine expert, and at first I was quite apprehensive about going into something new.

"But I've found my skills from journalism are very useful. I think there must be a lot of people who have the skills to be a success in another, very different job, but who don't know what they can do." On February 22, the major conference Chance to Change comes to Newcastle's civic centre, aiming to encourage some of the North East's 126,000 unemployed people to follow in Anna's footsteps. Carole Beverley, chief executive of the Entrepreneurs Forum, said increasing numbers of people were looking at establishing their own businesses.

"No one is ever going to suggest that starting a business is the easy option - such a step into the unknown can be daunting or even intimidating.

"But there has never been a better time to give it a go because you're not alone.

"There are plenty who are in the same position and plenty who've been through it, come out the other side and never look back. Their stories are always inspirational."

For Kate Grantham, from Gosforth, Newcastle, running her own business is the best thing she has ever done.

The former primary school teacher gave up her job when daughter Erin, five, was born.

"My priorities changed when I had my daughter," Kate, 34, explained. …