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Ministers praise for Tower Hamlets


Lee Lixenberg

No fewer than five Government Ministers were in Tower Hamlets this week – to trumpet work taking place locally to support some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents.

The delegation – led by Social Exclusion Minister Hilary Armstrong – visited the Bromley-by-Bow Centre, to launch a new action plan on social exclusion, saying that the centre was a model they would like to see mirrored elsewhere in the country.

Other Ministers launching the action plan, entitled Reaching Out, were Children’s Minister Beverley Hughes; Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt; Secretary of State for Communities, Ruth Kelly and Pat McFadden, Cabinet Office Minister for Social Exclusion.

Speaking at the launch, Hilary Armstrong praised the centre for the way various agencies were working together to cater for the precise needs of local people. The Centre has become a focal point for local people - helping residents gain new skills while meeting their health and family needs, and also creating jobs and wealth for the area.

Hilary Armstrong said: “No-one should be written off – nobody is too hard to reach. I don’t believe that there is anyone who doesn’t want a better future for themselves and their children. Our action plan will help and challenge individuals, and the services supporting them, to unlock their aspirations and help lift themselves out of poverty and exclusion.”

She added: ”We have to accept, with the hardest to reach families who have the most problems, the current universal ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is not enough. We need to intervene at the right time, personalise our services, be more persistent and coordinated – and fit them around the needs of individuals if we are ever going to tackle the hardest complexities of people’s lives.”

Speaking after the launch, Centre Chief Executive, Rob Trimble, said: “Over the years we have discovered that everyone has talent and the ability to transform their lives, but that not everyone has the right opportunities. We are committed to creating opportunities for local people in order to see them and their families flourish.”

Bromley by Bow was one of the first children’s centres in the country and has worked closely with Tower Hamlets Council and the Tower Hamlets Partnership to give local children the best possible start in life - while also trying to boost local health conditions, job and educational opportunities.

This includes work with the Council to build an ‘enterprise hub’ comprising six projects training and employing local people, as well as helping them develop business ideas. The centre has also helped the Council offer high quality and innovative day care to people with physical and learning disabilities for the last 16 years and offering training for many people in care. This has been supported by Council funding - and has been described by social services as a ‘Rolls Royce’ programme.

Tower Hamlets Council Leader, Denise Jones, commented: “This is the second time in a matter of months that Ministers have held up Tower Hamlets projects as shining examples of tackling poverty and social exclusion that they’d like to see rolled out across the country - following the launch of their LinkAge Plus programme for older people earlier this year.

“This is an acknowledgement of the pioneering work taking place in the borough – and well deserved praise for the many people working hard, day-in day-out, for some of the most vulnerable people living in Tower Hamlets.”

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