The London Borough of Haringey has some of the highest unemployment figures in London. According to the Office for National statistics, Tottenham has more people claiming job seekers allowance than any other part of London. However, all that is set to change as the borough embarks upon an ambitious regeneration scheme that will ensure the borough becomes fully employed 2030.
To support the council’s plans, Business in the Community is partnering with law firm, Linklaters, to support some of Haringey’s most vulnerable residents into employment. We caught up with Simon Branigan, a partner in the firm, to discuss how other businesses can get involved in the project.
Linklaters is well known for its work in Hackney providing capacity-building support to third sector organisations, and for its well established school partnership with Clapton Girls’ Academy. What inspired you to look at a whole new area of London?
"It has been clear for some time that much of London fails to see the benefits of corporate engagement that boroughs such as Hackney have enjoyed for a decade or more. We’ve been working there for over ten years now and we will continue to build on relationships with Clapton Girls’ Academy and local charities (find out more about Linklaters work in Hackney).
Yet many parts of outer London have little business engagement and high levels of unemployment - we wanted to use what we’ve learned, and understand how that can be applied elsewhere. That was when we approached BITC to talk about working in Haringey".
Hackney might have seemed like a more obvious choice given its proximity to your offices. What was the rationale for Haringey?
Haringey is a mixed borough - some areas are quite affluent whereas other parts to the east have some of the highest levels of out of work claimants in the country. For example, Northumberland Park, where our partner school, Northumberland Park Community School is based, has an unemployment rate of approx. 30 percent, which is significantly higher than the national average.
However, change is afoot in the borough. Ambitious regeneration plans are underway in Tottenham and Wood Green and we sensed an opportunity. We particularly want to support the third sector to make the most of this investment and help those organisations to support those furthest from the labour market and at risk of isolation.
Given your success in Hackney, is it simply a case of replicating the same interventions in Haringey?
Not at all – although there are many lessons that we can learn from the work that we’ve been doing in Hackney, there are huge differences and we want to ensure that we and other businesses complement the vision of Haringey Council and the third sector.
You've obviously got a lot of experience in strategic community investment. Would it make sense for a company who was newer to this type of work to get involved?
Definitely. There are opportunities for any kind of organisation, regardless of your experience in partnering with local communities, or the size of your business. The key to success for this project is bringing together different businesses, who bring diversity of strengths and opportunities.
Businesses can get involved at a variety of levels – from getting employees to support residents into employment through coaching or mentoring, providing work placements, or perhaps partnering with a school or share business skills with local grass roots organisations’ capacity. In turn, you get access to high quality volunteering activities that your employees will benefit from, and you can recruit from a talent pool you wouldn’t otherwise have reached.
Whatever your business, we can find a role for you!
What are the key things a business should consider before joining an initiative like this?
1. What skills, resources and opportunities could you bring – it’s best to be clear and up front about this.
2. Consider what kind of commitment you will make – we all know that the challenges faced in Haringey are not simple, and there isn’t a silver bullet solution. We need to commit in the long-term and innovate to overcome some of the complex challenges that we’ll tackle
3. Consider what’s in it for you – there are so many benefits to getting involved – making the business case for your involvement will be key to engaging stakeholders at all levels in your business.
Where do you see this project in 5 years-time?
In 5 years-time, we envisage a stronger voluntary community sector, and many more residents with significantly higher work skills and with simplified routes to employment. We’d also like to see more businesses partnering with schools across the borough.
This will only happen with increased collaboration - we need you!
For more information about the project and how your business can get involved, please contact: Ann-Marie Liddiard, Operations Manager South.