Our business is our community - so how's it doing?

As a community business, we exist to make an impact on the life chances of young people growing up in our borough. 

There are 92,000 children and young people in Lambeth. Three out of five are growing up in poverty and 85 per cent are from a black, Caribean or minority ethnic backgrounds. 

The statistics for children growing up in poverty are stark.

Young people from lower-income families are almost twice as likely to not be in employment, education or training (NEET) aged 16 than their more affluent peers. Fair Education Alliance

Being poor and black is a double whammy, especially when it comes to post GCSE education and jobs. 

Black graduates earn on average 23% less than white ones and are far more likely to be unemployed. Equality and Human Rights Commission

Children growing up in poverty have limited experiences. They lack access to social capital, networks with people in professional work and opportunities to explore London. 

 
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9,000 Lambeth teenagers aged 15-19 are living in families who are struggling to put food on the table and who lack social connections to professional work. 

We Rise is based in central Brixton where gentrification is bringing new wealth, but also starkly increasing inequality. 

Coldharbour Ward is the most deprived part of Lambeth with the highest proportion of Black Caribbean and Black African residents, the lowest employment rate, and the highest proportion of households with children with no adults in employment. It has a high proportion of unemployed lone parents and residents with no qualifications. The crime rate is high.  

Lambeth’s recent Equality Commission highlighted a lack of access to good work experience for young people in Lambeth. Black residents are four times more likely to be unemployed than white residents. Those that do work are often in low paid jobs without career prospects. For Black Carribbean residents, employer attitudes, unconscious bias and discrimination are significant barriers.

The situation is particularly challenging after GCSEs, when many of our young people struggle. The achievement gap for Lambeth students from poor families gets worse after the age of 16, especially for Caribbean pupils. A third of 19 year olds do not have level 3 (A level) qualifications. 

In an increasingly complicated system of post-16 provision young people are all too often left to navigate their own path, relying on personal and social networks: which disadvantages those from less affluent backgrounds. Fair Education Alliance

The local school, Ark Evelyn Grace Academy, which serves Moorlands and Loughborough Estates, currently has no sixth form. 100% of students leave after their GCSE’s with little support or guidance. Many young people are not engaged in education. They may “officially” be at FE or Sixth Form college, but in reality attend infrequently or drop out. Their lives can become aimless as they lose confidence, ambition and belief. 

The local authority tries to keep track of all 16 and 17 year olds in order to report their destinations to the Department for Education. 

The latest figures show 5,450 16-17 year olds are known to the Council (age is measured from the start of the school year) but 10% of these, or 540, have no known destination. Some of them (2%) are known to be NEET (not in employment, education or training) but the rest are not known. 

Over the last three years the number of 16-17 year olds whose education is “not known” has increased by 200.

Serious youth violent crime has increased dramatically which creates a culture of fear among parents and in communities. 

Youth services have been cut. The local youth club Marcus Lipton had to close for the whole summer following a fatal stabbing. The Moorlands Estate has lost its youth provision entirely. 

Our community has huge needs, but it also has enormous talent and resilience. 

We have worked with around 500 young people so far. We are inspired by their talent and we feel a sense of achievement every time we see a young person grow as they develop new confidence and insight. 

Ely could barely make eye contact when he joined our first work experience project to make “The Truth” for Lambeth Council. Due to his personal experiences of youth violence Ely connected to the topic and we discovered that he is brilliant with words. He wrote an incredibly moving poem for the end. Describing the experience he said:  “It was just so good..It really inspires you to visualise your future..It’s an amazing experience”.  

Laniyah was really impressive as part of this summer’s research team for Brixton BID. She said, “It was such a great and enriching experience. I got to grow in myself as well as develop new skills (and) communicate my ideas to people I’ve never met before.” After their presentation our client, Michael Smith said the team “presented their findings with clarity and confidence, emitting an ease with their material usually seen with much more experienced researchers.”

We have been overwhelmed by the number of local professionals who have volunteered for our new mentor programme. They will be matched with a 16-17 year old who has just left school. The mentor will meet them face to face once a month to help them set goals, take action and navigate the challenges of their first year at college.

Our community needs us, and we need you. 

We can only develop and make more impact with your support and your help.

You can volunteer or donate (we need a donate button)

Please join the We Rise movement and help empower our young people.


Abigail Melville