Around 5,000 former Thomas Cook staff are still believed to be out of work four months on from Thomas Cook’s collapse.

John McEwan, a former Thomas Cook veteran, estimated less than half of Thomas Cook’s 9,000 UK staff were now back in work, with many in Peterborough and Manchester still looking for jobs.

Many of those re-employed include 2,000 to 3,000 retail staff, according to McEwan, whose independent fundraising appeal with another Thomas Cook veteran John Donaldson, has so far raised £188,000 for industry charity Abta LifeLine.

McEwan, a trustee of Abta LifeLine, said the appeal – which targeted senior industry executives and originally aimed to raise £100,000 – now hoped to reach £200,000.

By Christmas, £150,000 had been paid out to former employees in desperate financial need. Travel Weekly Group was among those to donate to the appeal, giving £5,000.

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He said: “Of the amount raised so far, almost 100% of it has gone out and this is why we want to continue to campaign for funds.

“There are a lot of cases of hardship; the majority of people made redundant are still looking for jobs and we think the demand for help will continue. We still need to do what we can to raise funds.”

It comes as Abta LifeLine prepares to relaunch its pound per employee appeal to £2 per employee. This involves Abta member firms donating £2 per employee to the charity.

Abta LifeLine gave out £140,000 in food vouchers in the eight weeks leading up to Christmas to ex-Thomas Cook staff in need. Its focus now is on helping former staff with rent, mortgage, bills and childcare.  In total, the charity has had 1,300 applications for help.

Director Trudie Clements said: “Vouchers suited people’s immediate needs but now we are asking people to fill in bigger application forms so we can assess their individual needs and best target our funds.

“It might be some people need to attend a training course for a new job and need money for a train to get there or have bills to pay or need rent relief.”

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