In these difficult and challenging times, especially for young people from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds. The importance of professional support and guidance in the jobs market is crucial.
One of the organisations doing great work at community and grass-roots level is Access UK (African Caribbean Careers & Employment Support Services UK). They are a charitable organisation which provides bespoke careers and employment solutions for Black and Minority Ethnic jobseekers. The community-based organisation’s work centres on improving outcomes for young BAME beneficiaries around the three ‘E’s’ of; Education, Employment & Enterprise.
The charity was formed after the 2011 London riots after the CEO, Nana Agyeman was commissioned to review the contributory socio-economic factors, behind the social unrest. The eruption of youth angst and frustration culminated in scenes of public disorder across London and all major cities of the UK. The report unearthed several racial disparities including black graduate unemployment rates being three times greater than their white fellow graduates, and 50% general unemployment rates amongst young BAME people, between the ages of 18-24.
Nana and Access UK have been routinely questioned the necessity for such an organisation in ‘post-racial’ Britain. However, the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, the UK’ government’s Race Disparity Audit and the police killing of George Floyd in America has once again illuminated the issue of systemic racism, within British society.
As a careers and employability expert, Nana has over 20 years’ experience in the youth engagement and Welfare to Work sector. Access UK is based in the London Borough of Haringey, one of the most diverse areas of London. They provide tailored and culturally competent solutions that go against the proverbial ‘one -size fits all’ model of youth services that have consistently failed BAME beneficiaries. The organisation also offers innovative anti-gang programmes aimed at addressing the over-representation of young Black males in London based street gangs.
Nana highlighted that fact, that currently 77% of known gang members in London are allegedly young Black men, according to the Met. Police. Black males are also three times more likely to be imprisoned for an identical crime that is committed by a white offender. According to Access UK, the system is not fit for purpose, and Access UK aims to be the “social equaliser” said Nana. He added further, “It’s about time we critically analysed these statistics and ask ourselves why mainstream interventions are culturally inept and generic. They only serve to address the aesthetics of racial disparities and are therefore destined to fail.”
Access UK uses the motivational and transformative power of Black History studies, as the spark to help young Black men transition from the “roads” to legitimacy and sustainable employment or business start-up. They are committed to reverse the appalling 50% unemployment rate among BAME youth. Access UK’s essential services include diversity& inclusion training, BAME talent sourcing, careers guidance, business and enterprise support, skill-based training, apprenticeships, assistance with finding funding, job brokerage, ring-fenced BAME opportunities, CV writing master workshops and Black History classes. These important interventions are there to foster positive self-esteem and boosting the confidence of their chosen demographic. Nana added “We know the combination of Brexit, Covid-19 and the current recession, is going to have a devastating impact in general, particularly on the Black community. Access UK, therefore, welcomes all the support and assistance the community can offer, including pro -bono expertise and volunteers. Our essential services are currently self- funded. We would benefit from receiving donations, investment and securing contracts that aim to create an equitable society”.
Presently Access UK partners include; Accenture, The Amos Bursary, BBC, BTEG, The
Prince’s Trust, DWP, KPMG, The London Mayor’s Office, National Citizens’ Service, London
School of Economics, Barnardo’s, Reach Society, Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, VRU (Violence Reduction Unit) & VCPB (Violence Crime Prevention Board).
If you wish to support Access UK’s important mission, please make donations via: https://www.accessuk.org/donate
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