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Construction project launched to help Lambeth’s unemployed

OPPORTUNITY: Disengaged young people are being given the opportunity to gain skills and experience

DISENGAGED YOUNG people are being given the opportunity to gain skills, experience and employment in the construction industry in the London borough of Lambeth.

Through the Build-it programme, launched in April 2013, 1,500 young people will receive opportunities to repair, refurbish and renovate social housing and derelict properties across the borough, over a two-year period. London Youth, a charity with a network of over 400 diverse community youth organisations in neighbourhoods across the capital, in partnership with Cospa and supported by Lambeth Council, as well as Lambeth College won a £1.7 million award to execute the project on behalf of The Big Lottery Fund.

The project comes in the wake of news that the unemployment rate for blacks, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis has escalated to 12 per cent, twice the rate of white jobseekers, according to the latest statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Delivery officer for Build-it, Roxi Jahanshahi, said: “The main thing we don’t want is young people – unemployed, unskilled and isolated – without a support structure helping them in the right direction.

“The key for me is that young people who take part in the programme receive vital on-the-job work experience helping them transition into full-time employment.”

Projects like Build-it are important in tackling one of the biggest issues facing youth unemployment. London Youth will be responsible for the overall management, monitoring, co-ordination and delivery of the project. Cospa was responsible for conceptualising the Build-it programme since they specialise in creating, delivering and enhancing social action projects by identifying and enabling cross-sector partnership and funding opportunities. The project aims to create a model of good practice that can ultimately be shared and rolled out among local partners in regions and boroughs across the UK. The pilot-project was featured in the first episode of the Channel 4 documentary series, The Secret Millions in 2012. The show followed young people as they worked with architect George Clarke to renovate an empty house.

Jahanshahi said: “Occasionally participants can’t go straight into full-time employment, so we try to continue their progression – whether it’s through apprenticeships or further training. There are so many youngsters full of potential and we hope to maximise this potential and their future prospects.”

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