The North Tottenham ward of Northumberland Park falls in the top 10% of the most deprived wards in the country. Youth unemployment in Northumberland Park is the worst in London (third worst in the country) with 24% of 16-24 years old in the area out of work. 60% of the Council’s housing stock is in this ward an it is managed by Homes for Haringey who felt that going beyond traditional housing management could combat the problem.
This was an opportunity for Homes for Haringey to engage and access an area with a strong gang element, a violent history and place where no statutory service has engaged for well over 10 years. It presented an opportunity to hear from the most vulnerable young people and advocate to shape services to suit them better.
The umbrella approach of Project 2020 aims to decrease the number of young people aged between 16 and 24 years of age in Haringey Not in Education, Employment or Training, beginning with a pilot in Northumberland Park. This is being done via engagement, bespoke one-to-one assessment, mentoring, skills training, work experience and apprenticeships, and achievement ceremonies.
- The refurbishment of a community centre for use as an employment and education centre
- Over 50 young people registered to the programme with 70 young people accessing the centre weekly many of whom have had involvement in gangs and drugs
- Young people involved in presentations to the Mayor of London at City Hall as part of work linked to Tottenham’s regeneration
- More than 25 young people completing courses in citizenship, sports leadership, construction, cycle maintenance, self motivation
- 32 Homes for Haringey staff completing training as mentors
The overarching objective is to reduce unemployment and raise skills levels of young people aged 16-24 in the borough – measureable targets are:
- 40 clients provided with information, advice and guidance/one to one support with clear action plans
- 30 complete training
- 10 clients supported into paid employment or business start up
- Three Apprentices taken on within the various teams in Homes for Haringey and four volunteers taken
- 10 supported into work experience with various contractors/consultants
- 10 apprentices taken in the various trades in the Haringey Repairs Service team
- 20 clients matched with mentors from the various programmes
- 10 young people from secondary schools offered work experience opportunities
- 10 young people participate in programme leading to development of 3 business ideas with at least one successful business start-up
The programme was the brain child of the Chief Executive, Paul Bridge, who drummed up support from 38 external organisations to support the cause. His confidence in Project 2020 is reciprocated throughout the hierarchy of Homes for Haringey.
Quarterly reports are fed back to Leadership team about Project 2020’s progress, and to funding partners as required.
The project is still in its pilot phase.
Since the official launch in January 2013:
Five young people have gained paid employment with positions including Green Team Operative, Mechanic, and Sales Assistant (Harrods).
For example, 22 year old Kevin Russell* is an ex-offender. Kevin has now secured full time work through Project 2020. He works as an Operative with a local contractor looking after parks and green spaces in Haringey. Kevin, who is now able to support his partner and three children says:
“My job is perfect really, I couldn’t ask for more. Project 2020 even paid for an Oyster card to get me to work for my trial period. Now I’m off the streets and I can move forward with my life.”
It has also coached young people for job interviews including Transport For London’s graduate trainee scheme and Trainee Stock Broker.
Since the education and employment centre has been open it has seen:
- Two Neighbourhood Worker Volunteers successfully gain jobs with the organisation as a Detached Youth Worker and a Business and IT Apprentice. They are role models to Project 2020 participants demonstrating the value of paid employment
- Reduced youth crime and repeat offending. For example, Miles Jackson* was a violent repeat offender but has not offended in the past seven months since he has been engaged with scheme Reduced anti-social behaviour (on the estate) as young people attend the project. It has a strong partnership with the local police who have asked it to keep the centre open at specific times to prevent anti-social behaviour
- It has given young people opportunities to learn and practise lasting skills. For example, nine Project 2020 participants successfully facilitated a workshop at Northumberland Park secondary school for year nine pupils raising awareness on sexual bullying
*Not their real names.
Setting up Project 2020 has been a learning experience for Homes for Haringey. Important learning points include:
- Get experts in to do the job: It leveraged the extensive experience of its Youth and Community Outreach Worker who had done a lot of detached youth work on the ground there in Northumberland Park and hired a second one in order to bolster support. These youth workers have not only been able to do the work but to train upcoming youth workers
- Communicate well and often: Tailoring its communications for example using Blackberry Messenger means that it can reach participants quickly ensuring attendance at training and important events
- Work with external agencies: By working strategically with the Police it has been able to directly impact anti-social behaviour on its estates and even protect its participants.