Colin was asked to give evidence to Lambeth’s new style overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday 7th October at the Carmelita Centrein Vauxhall. The committee session was focused on Maximising Employment Opportunities for Lambeth Residents. The committee heard from a wide range of organisations and individuals who are making tremendous efforts to help Lambeth residents into work.
Most of the evidence focussed on opportunities that were available to people who were ready or nearly ready to start working and who had most of the skills required to start. Colin focussed his remarks on those residents who through force of circumstances are not so ready to work and who need more help and support.
Firstly, he spoke of the considerable barriers that many people face such as personal illness and commitments to look after other people that make it very difficult for them to work regular hours. “how can a person suffering with say cancer who doesn’t know from day to day how they’re going to feel or whether they can even get out of bed each morning commit to work specific hours for an employer?” He then described how being out of work for a long period can have “a shattering effect on a person’s confidence” which can take a long time to rebuild.
In the short time available Colin sketched out 2 approaches that would make a meaningful difference to people who found themselves in either of the two categories above. His first was to support people to explore the idea of self-employment. He described how most of the people Tree Shepherd works with have a great passion to do something different and creative and had huge potential to turn that passion in an enterprise. He went on to say that some of the enterprises Tree Shepherd have helped have already gone on to employ people. His second solution was to support the growth of social enterprise as the most effective means of creating employment for those people who are traditionally discriminated against in the work force or who have been unemployed for a long time. “if you want to help the most challenged to get work you need to support people who are driven and motivated to do that.
Social Entrepreneurs are 3 times more likely to set up in more deprived places and are totally committed to helping and employing those that need the most help. Once people have a job their confidence grows rapidly and they are much more able to secure work in the commercial sector – getting that first job is the key”
Asked afterwards what he thought of the proceedings Colin said “the committee has made a good start and shown itself willing to engage with this important issue. I’m hoping it will dig a bit deeper into the barriers that prevent people from working as traditional employees and develop some solutions that offer genuine help for them. Lambeth has been very supportive of our ideas so far and I know they are open to fresh thinking on what has been an intractable problem here and across many other parts of the country for years”