Blog: How do we create opportunities for everyone in an unequal borough? By Richard Serunjogi

Croydon is an unequal borough. The latest Index of Multiple Deprivation data suggests this has intensified in recent years.

Inequality does not just affect the poorest. More equal societies are more cohesive, healthier and happier. So what can we in Croydon do to reverse this trend?

Fundamentally, beating inequality is about expanding opportunity to every corner of Croydon, so that everyone has access to the opportunities, networks and support to thrive.

All our work as a Commission is aimed at creating these opportunities and connections.

Take the area of work experience: initial exposure to work can give a young person the confidence and connections to get a step on to the career ladder. Despite the good work of Croydon College and other schools and sixth-forms, not all of Croydon’s young people have the opportunity to get a good quality placement.

Or the area of employment. Despite higher levels of employment in Croydon, many groups feel they don’t have the opportunities and support to get back into work. This must change. We must make sure that employment support is taken to the heart of the community to give opportunities – especially to those who need it most.

We have some ideas about how employment opportunities can be extended to the community and how to improve work experience. Some of these are outlined below.

- To extend support to young people, we want to support the roll out of First Step so that every young person at college is offered local work experience. Combined with a greater push to connect colleges and businesses to support training needs, we think this could help make great progress.

- To support the long-term sick and disabled into work, we want to see new services within GP surgeries and extended into the community wherever possible. These could support employment advice and benefit advice as well.

- Those with debt problems need to be better supported. Money wise training courses could be offered to those in debt or vulnerable to debt. And greater support for social lending, including peer to peer approaches, could help bring people together as well as tackle issues around debt.

These are some of our ideas. We now want to hear what you think of them.

To get in touch and share your views, please call 0800 612 2182, email contact@opportunitycroydon.org, or Tweet @OppCroydon

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