The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is an area of great contrasts. Sitting on the edge of the City it is home to landmarks as varied as the Tower of London, Brick Lane and Canary Wharf, and is home to some of the biggest firms in the World. Despite the area’s recent economic reinvention it remains one of the most deprived local authority areas in England.
At the last census the Borough had the highest rate of unemployment in the country, and a population of almost 200,000, 30% higher than 10 years earlier. It is home to a diverse and vibrant community and one of the largest and fastest growing youth populations in Europe. The council reports that a third of the population is Bangladeshi in origin, half of whom are under 20, and unemployment is as high as 32%. Community cohesion and race relations are often poor, drug use and anti-social behaviour persist and crime levels are more than double the national average.
The Government’s Multiple Deprivation Index ranks much of the borough within the worst 5% of the country. 1 in 4 people are deemed to have skills too low for business use; this demonstrates how the area has continued to struggle, despite an influx of new jobs which now outnumber residents more than 2-to-1. For Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women, with whom we also work, economic inactivity is as high as 70%.
There is hope for the future - despite the impact of the credit crunch, developments in Corporate Social Responsibility and local procurement policies are helping bring much needed training, investment and jobs right into the local community. City Gateway’s work, in partnership with other organisations, has seen NEET (young people not in education, employment or training) figures fall from 15% to 6.7% in the past two years. The New Statesman reports that of the 250 young people removed from the Borough NEET register in 2007, City Gateway had worked with 220 of them.
Trisha Hynes, Head of Marketing and Enterprise
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