Action on poverty in Tower Hamlets - A Community based participation Solution.
In a recent report called the London Poverty profile 2011, by the Trust for London and New Policy Institute we learnt a lot about the poverty situation in London Borough ofTower Hamlets. The most important fact learnt is that Tower Hamlets has the highest unemployed working age adult in London. 9%
In the other report published in January 2012 by the End Child Poverty Campaign, Tower Hamlets has the highest rate of child poverty in London. We also know that Tower Hamlets is the second most deprived borough in London and is the third most deprived borough nationally.
Analysis of those reports.
Our close analysis of facts published in those reports, our consultation with local community leaders/community based organisations and our experience in working within underprivileged communities supporting community based organisations and grassroots based local social innovations; we found out that social challenges identified within Tower Hamlets have important various dimensions and underlying factors.
1. Social and cultural barriers:
Tower Hamlets is one of multicultural borough in UK, with more than 50% of residents considered to be non-white British. London Poverty profile also indicates that the Bangladesh community is also highest unemployed adults not in paid work by ethnic origin in London. As we know that Bangladeshi community is the biggest local ethic group, these two facts lead us to conclude that the Bangladeshi community contribute largely to the local unemployment rate.
This community unemployment has been found to be caused by various social barriers such low rate of literacy and numeracy, language barriers, low rate of access to local education and training opportunities as well as employment support services by working age Bangladeshi adults.
There is obvious correlation between the unemployment rate and the child poverty situation because the unemployment significantly reduces household income. We know that low household income causes poverty. We also know that poverty became significant when households affected have children. Thus the unemployment issue is the most important factor that caused the child poverty level in Tower Hamlets.
The unemployment it itself have various underlying causes .
2. Social isolation and lack of sense of belonging:
Local population statistics demonstrate that the Somali community is the 2nd largest ethnic minority in Tower Hamlets; it has also the highest number of working age adult by country of birth. Therefore by putting together these two facts, it leads us to conclude that the Somali community is the 2nd largest contributor to the local unemployment rate.
By working with the community supporting organisations we have found out that the underlying issues causing unemployment are related to isolation, lack of access to services, lack of sense of belonging to the wider community and lack of confidence of ability of local specialised services to be able to assist them.
3. Social mobility:
Social mobility defined as the movement of individuals or groups in social position over time, has been found to be is at the lowest level of the scale. It is common in Tower Hamlets to see generations of families which have never moved at the social level. Lack of role models within communities and families have been the most contributors of this situation.
The above mentioned social and cultural barriers as well as social isolation are also important contributors to the social mobility issue.
There are large numbers of young people who are unemployed and are not enthusiastic or confidence to access any employment due to the fact that they have not seen or inspired by any one close to them who is in employment or have moved at the social level.
Thus their aspiration development is handicapped by limited stimulating and necessary experiences within their everyday lives, households and neighbourhoods.
Furthermore lack confidence within some members of ethnic minorities communities in relation to effective use of existing anti-discriminations procedures in accessing opportunities discourages any attempt to access opportunities which have potentiality of moving them at the next level of their social life.
In the last three weeks LCSI has conducted a consultation exercise with members of local communities, local community leaders, local community organisations, local voluntary organisations and statutory services.
The consultation has enabled us to develop a comprehensive project that will work to address the unemployment issues within Tower Hamlets by tackling all its underlining factors and dimensions.
The project implementation methodology will be rooted in strong and effective collaborations between local voluntary, statutory and private sector, sharing learning and good practice between them and direct service provision at the grassroots level as well as mentoring provided by local residents for local residents.
Local businesses will participate by providing work placements places for local young people, each providing up to 3 places a year. During these work placements, beneficiaries will gain various skills and experiences. So far 27 local businesses have registered to be on the programme. They will be assessed to identified opportunities they have and their suitability to participate in the programme.
Local community organisations, particularly within Somali and Bangladeshi communities will supported and guided to provide direct support services that are related to addressing various identified social and cultural barriers. Community organisations under this programme they will work much more in collaboration at a level that has never happened before.
Local community based organisation intervention in the project will depend of their area of work which will ne enhanced in terms of quality of service provide, in terms of ability to collaboration with others services, in terms of ability to capture learning and in terms of ability to share learning and good practice gained. So far nine community based organisations have been approved to be part of the programme.
Local residents with education and experience in employment shall provide one to one mentoring support to long-term unemployed residents so that they can assist them to gain confidence to move our of povertly, to identify their skills and interest and eventually help them to access suitable training and employment opportunities.
Local service providers involved in the project and relevant local statutory service will meet on regular basis to share learning and good practices and strengthen existing collaboration as well as developing new ones.
A local councillor called our consultation exercise ‘’ The biggest community participation initiative by local people for local issues’’ considering the interest local services and potential service users have demonstrated on the project.
Mustafa Ibrahim of Tower Hamlets Somali Organisations Networks commented that '' The best opportunity for the somali community to move up at the society ladder and become active and integrated members of the local community. In the process they will improve the quality of their lives ''
LCSI is very grateful to local businesses, local service providers and residents who have shown interest in the project and registered to be part of it. We are also grateful to our volunteers who have tirelessly went around in Tower Hamlets speaking to relevant beneficiaries and stakeholders about this project and taking their views and feedbacks as well as recruiting them to be part of it.
If you wish to be part of this project please contact us at email@example.com