This week I have been visiting Reed in Partnership offices as part of the company’s 20th birthday celebrations. Yesterday I went to Tottenham, Hackney and Southwark in north, east and south London.
When I arrived in Hackney, I met Marcus Carter (pictured). I was particularly delighted to learn that Marcus had participated in our original Hackney New Deal programme 20 years ago and that we had helped him find his first job. We enjoyed reminiscing about the Hackney Campus and Marcus told me that the cook in our Internet Café (a novelty then) used to give him extra potato toppings for helping out in the kitchen. Marcus is now helping other 18-24 year olds find work in Hackney as one of Reed in Partnership’s Education and Employment Advisers. It struck me that no one could be more qualified to do this work than Marcus.
Back in the autumn of 1997 REED was asked by the government if we would be interested in bidding to provide additional support to jobseekers in Hackney, East London. This was one of the worst areas for unemployment in Britain at the time. The government was looking for a partner with experience of jobs and recruitment to help deliver its New Deal programme in the area. After a fiercely competitive tendering exercise, REED was selected.
Fast forward a year to October 1998 and our offering was totally new. From the very beginning we brought a new and innovative approach to tackling the many barriers to employment that were so typical of the area at the time. We converted an old job centre into a multimedia Campus, complete with an Internet Café, Employment Advisers and one-to-one counselling. Since then, this pioneering approach has become the basis for mainstream service provision up and down the country.
We held on tight to a single principle: no one is unemployable. We brought a jobs-first approach and we wanted to help people better understand how they could improve their circumstances through working. The people who came through our doors were not ‘clients’ or ‘the unemployed’, they became our Members. And at the end of every week, on Friday afternoon, we would fire rockets from the old yard behind the Campus to celebrate the week’s successes, one rocket for every Member we had placed into work.
There are as many reasons for unemployment as there are people unemployed. Each case should be treated individually, and each individual benefits from advice and support unique to them and to their situation. Research consistently tells us that being long-term unemployed will have a significant impact on your quality of life and on your mental health. And although working to fix this can be really challenging, I firmly believe that supporting people back into work is a vital public service.
I’m very proud of the fact that over the last 20 years, Reed in Partnership has successfully placed over 150,000 people who had been long term unemployed back into work. Its growth is testament to the quality and expertise developed across our organisation, and to the strong partnerships we have had with other organisations in local communities. This has opened up opportunities for us to increase our reach and to use our capabilities in other ways. Whether it’s providing youth development support with the National Citizen Service or preventing dangerous disease onset with the NHS National Diabetes Prevention Programme, the work of Reed in Partnership in 2018 continues to change people’s lives for the better.
I would like to thank everyone who has worked with us over the last 20 years. Working together, in partnership, we will continue to positively transform people and their communities. That is our mission. That is our passion.