Colin Grainger

Resilience key to transforming lives and communities

Resilience is the key to transforming lives and communities, the Mayor of Newham said this week. Addressing a major event organised by leading national think tank the Young Foundation, Sir Robin Wales said resilience was now embedded in everything Newham Council did.

His key note speech coincided with the launch of Resilience, Making It Happen,  which looks at how Newham is delivering on its priorities.

Newham, where two thirds of last year’s Olympics and Paralympics occurred, has unique challenges, he told the audience. It is the youngest and most diverse place in Britain and the second most deprived area in England. Half of its children live in poverty.

Sir Robin explained: “In Newham we take building resilience very seriously. It means much more than just the ability to bounce back from a single damaging event.

“We want all of our residents to have the skills and resources that will allow them to negotiate common challenges, overcome difficult circumstances that they may experience and take up opportunities that come their way. Helping our people to be resilient is the only way that we can address the roots of social disadvantage, rather than just reacting to the problems it causes.”

He added: “Initiatives can only do so much. We need to change how our public services and public engagement works. We’re putting in place institutions and systematic changes that will stand the test of time.”

He said that in Newham economic resilience was being delivered through Workplace, the local employment scheme, which gets 5,000 people a year into work.

“We’re delivering personal resilience by recognising that a good start in life is something all children deserve, regardless of their parents’ situation.

“We have a comprehensive Every Child programme. This includes a groundbreaking programme which gives children in Year 5, Year 6 and Year 7 the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument, at no cost to parents.”

Newham also offers:

  • Free universal school meals for all primary age children;
  • A guarantee of one to one tuition for primary children falling behind with reading;
  • And free theatregoing and sports participation, including Every Child a Chess Player.
  • Our elected councillors with our residents will have real control over physical assets and local services.
  • From now on they’ll direct the biggest council-run volunteering service in the country.
  • They’ll be able to pro-actively approach hub co-ordinator officers to share ideas about what will make their neighbourhood better, and then participate to get changes made.”

Sir Robin added: “This is a uniquely challenging period for Newham, which has been hit hard and disproportionately by central government cuts – £300 per head in the last three years. This resilience document is a vision of the council’s future direction, which will both meet these challenges and help empower our residents.”

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