A new community centre in Tower Hamlets – to help people in one of the most deprived areas of the UK with employment and welfare issues – was opened on Monday in a unique partnership bringing together the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Unite, the country’s largest union, and Barclay’s Bank.
The centre is based at the iconic St Georges Town Hall, Cable Street E1 OBL.
The centre, which will be open five days-a-week between 10.00 -18.00, will provide new training and job seeking skills, welfare advice, cultural activities and has a state of the art learning suite.
The centre will offer various educational courses, such as IT skills and offer assistance to find employment, from creating a CV to interview preparation. Centre staff will also advise on the growing number of welfare and benefit issues in London’s second most deprived borough.
Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman; Unite General Secretary, Len McCluskey; and Group Employment Director for Barclays, Dominic Johnson spoke at the opening ceremony.
Len McCluskey said: “We are near what were once the great London docks, which until the late sixties, employed tens of thousands of dockers.
“But times have changed. Tower Hamlets has changed. The dockers have been replaced by finance workers in Canary Wharf. But alongside the wealth of this global finance centre is great poverty.
“That is why this centre is needed and that is why our partnership with the mayor of Tower Hamlets and Barclays Bank will provide a vital resource to the local communities.”
Lutfur Rahman said: “I am delighted to be working closely with Len McCluskey, Unite and Barclays Bank in making this community centre a reality.
Job creation is one of my top priorities and this centre is going to play an important role in helping people find work.
I am particularly pleased to be working in partnership with Unite. As the recent terrible tragedies in the garment industry in Bangladesh have shown, and as the struggle of workers to be organised in the old sweatshops here in the East End have also demonstrated, trade unions play a critical role in ensuring people enjoy safety, security and fulfilment at work’.
Dominic Johnson said: “Barclays is pleased to be supporting the creation of this valuable new centre, which we hope will help people across the borough find pathways into work through new learning opportunities.
“It is important that Barclays plays a broader role in the communities in which we live and work, beyond what we deliver through our core business activities, such as supporting projects like this and our existing educational and employment support programmes such as LifeSkills and Barclays Spaces for Sports.”
Photo (l-r) Liane Groves, chairperson of the community centre steering group; Dominic Johnson, group employment director from Barclays; Unite general secretary Len McCluskey and the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman deliver speeches at the opening ceremony.
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