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Making the most of local opportunities

Everyone is aware of the economic toll that the coronavirus pandemic is taking. Unemployment is rising and while economic forecasts predict a recovery, it may be some time before the economy returns to pre-pandemic levels. We know that people locally are affected by the economic downturn, which is why, at least for the time being, we have links to pages where people can find support prominent on our website's homepage.

Harlesden has historically been an area of relatively high unemployment, but this time the outlook may be better here than many other areas. The development of the Old Oak Common and Park Royal ‘opportunity area’ and the construction of the Old Oak Common HS2 railway station are multi-billion pound programmes that have the potential to stimulate economic activity in the wider area and to create jobs during both development and operational phases. Up to 65,000 jobs are expected to be created over the long term.

The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC), as is customary with programmes of this scale, is expected to help to facilitate the opening up of employment opportunities to local residents in Brent, Ealing and Hammersmith and Fulham. As part of this, OPDC is developing the Park Royal Employment & Skills Hub which will connect residents with opportunities at Park Royal; this is in partnership with West London College, which is now running courses from their Park Royal site.

Other sources of employment support

Alongside the activities of OPDC, West London College and their partners, there are other local sources of employment support and job brokerage that may be of interest to both people seeking work and also employers.

These include Brent Works, run by Brent Council, which also provides advice about and access to apprenticeship programmes.

The main programme commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions is the Work and Health Programme. This is intended to help people with disabilities and health conditions, who can join the programme on a voluntary basis, and people who have been unemployed for more than 2 years, who can be given a mandatory referral. For people accessing the programme voluntarily, participation voluntary and is not linked to benefit conditionality – this means that people who withdraw from the programme will not face having any benefits they may be on reduced (known as a sanction).

Alongside these large initiatives there is a range of other local provision. One that might be of interest to people who have, or who have had, problems with drug or alcohol use is the Individual Placement and Support service run in Brent by the charity WDP, information about which is available at the WDP website.

While the economic outlook is uncertain, there are several places to turn locally for skills and employment support, and (at least from an employment perspective) we are fortunate to have a major, long-term development taking place on our doorstep.

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