Hornchurch & Upminster MP, Julia Lopez, today visited Havering’s Jobcentre to learn about the support their work coaches have been giving residents through the pandemic and in meeting cost of living challenges. Julia and her team were welcomed to the Romford site by Rizwan Ahmad, Jobcentre Service Leader for East London, and met work coaches and managers who have supported Havering job seekers with a whole range of needs, from accessing Universal Credit to getting into fulfilling careers.
A careers event was underway at the centre, and Julia spoke to employers and skills providers to understand how they are working to plug gaps in the local labour market. She also learned how there is now a specialist work coach, Steve, who is supporting newly-arrived Ukrainian refugees into work opportunities in the UK as they settle in the borough.
Julia and her team have worked with Jobcentre over several years to provide Jobs Fairs for local residents both at Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch and online during the pandemic, and have committed to holding a new event over the summer together so that employees and employers can be matched to one another.
Julia said of her visit, ‘The success of Jobcentre coaches during the pandemic has not been highlighted often enough. But the Havering team and others across the country did incredible things to support people through that time and they are doing it again as people face the cost of living challenge. They have really turned around the support offer by focusing on empowering individuals rather than talking about what cannot be done, particularly in relation to disability. They have made a massive contribution to keeping the unemployment rate so low. That is not just a statistic – it means real people being given the dignity of work and the means of changing their lives for the better.’
The local MP was so impressed by the empowering way in which the Havering Jobcentre team continues to approach residents in need of their services, that she made contact with the Work & Pensions Secretary, Therese Coffey, straight after her visit to share the great work they are doing. Ms Coffey turned out to have been equally impressed and had already recommended Riz Ahmad for the Prime Minister’s Award for Exceptional Public Service, which he won in January. Mr Ahmad was recognised for his success in remobilising face-to-face service delivery across the East London Jobcentre network. This includes the opening of six new Jobcentres, and recruiting, inducting and training more than 1,000 new Work Coaches who help steer individuals and families through difficult times to find, stay in and progress in a job. Thanks to his efforts, more than 5,500 young East Londoners have now joined the Kickstart programme.