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 – is the first of a number of such centres that will be rolled out by Unite, the country’s largest union.
The centre at the iconic St George’s Town Hall, Cable Street E1 0BL will be officially opened at noon on Monday (13 May). A similar centre in Barnsley, Yorkshire is due to open on 7 June.
The centre, which will be open five days-a-week between 10.00-18.00, is a new concept by Unite to become involved with local communities.
Unite has opened the centre with support from Tower Hamlets council and a capital grant from Barclays to fund a state of the art learning suite.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, executive mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman and group employee relations director for Barclays Dominic Johnson will be at the opening ceremony – and members of the public are invited as well.
Tower Hamlets has the second highest unemployment rate in London, with 3,100 16-24 year-olds jobless in the borough.
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.
Len McCluskey said: “We are near what were once the great London docks, which until the late 1960s, 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 The dockers have been replaced by finance workers in Canary Wharf.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.
“This centre and our partnership with the mayor of Tower Hamlets and Barclays bank will be a vital resource to the local community. It will empower and help people into work through skills, training and advice.
"As part of a drive by Unite to empower communities, the new centre will help people take charge of their lives and have a greater say in their futures on issues such as work, education and health."
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.”
Note for news editors:
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940 and/or Ellie O’Hagan on 07732 891599
Unite will also be organising the local community in Tower Hamlets through its new community membership which for the first time offers trade union membership to people who are not in work – volunteers, carers, stay-at-home mothers, retired and the unemployed. We want to empower local communities to have voice, to have a say in their lives. Unite will give people the skills that they need to campaign for a fairer society.
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.