Colin Grainger

Support from the Private Sector…and harnessing spirit of the Olympic Games

It is now more than seven months since the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games in Stratford when the eyes and ears of the world were upon us. For a special period in all our lives we were the centre of the universe.

Volunteers took to the streets to inform and guide athletes, officials and visitors, while residents, in the most multicultural place in the world, embraced the Games.

So where are we now and what can we all do to ensure future generations not only  take part in sport, but that we transform the East End.  Securing the legacy remains a challenge for this and future generations. This latest special feature examines the situation.

Just five minutes in the company of Liam Kane lifts your spirits about the future of East London.

An hour has me back in the mindset of feel-good factor that existed in much of the local population during the days of the Olympics.

Despite the downturn, the biting recession and all things guaranteed to lower our self-esteem, there IS much to be proud of in our manor.

Liam Kane ELBA   Liam Kane


Mr Kane joined East London Business Alliance (ELBA), the pioneering social and economic regeneration agency, as Chief Executive in 2002.

In the space of a few years, he has overseem the transformation of ELBA from a small underdeveloped charity to a large, highly professional and accomplished operation with an excellent track record for delivery.

There is no doubt in his views of what we need to do in the post-Oympics era.

“We need to harness the spirit of the volunteers, the Games makers, and all those others who made in such a success,” he said.

“A hell of a lot has improved in recent times and we must carry on that work.

“We have to maintain that business of raising aspirations of everyone in our communities in East London. There is so much good going on .”

He mentioned the Christmas Toy Appeal run by care group Community Links and Newham Recorder, something of which I am immensely proud in my 40 years at the Recorder, the last 15 as Editor.

“That shows exactly what can be achieved by people working together.”

Under Mr Kane’s leadership, ELBA has gone from 300 volunteers to 14,000 and private sector membership has gone up from 30 to over 100.

ELBA now attracts substantial funding from both private and public sector organisations due to its reputation for providing effective, high impact solutions for the key issues facing east London including employment, education, child poverty, health, culture and sport.

“We will get 800 people back into work this year. We have a terrific Apprentices programme coming up with the support of Barclays. That will help 1,000 people.

Companies really get it now, really get what we are trying to achieve.”

“Good quality schemes raising levels of aspiration and being proud of what we are and who we can be. The Workplace scheme run by Newham is simply incredible in what it is has achieved, CityAirport’s Take Off in Work scheme, ELBA is backing all this effort.”

He highlighted a new scheme of Business Action Groups in schools being run by ELBA. “Eight schools in Newham will become 12 in June and the mentoring work being given to schools who are now running their own budgets is  something we are very proud of.

“For the young people at those schools they get to visit places like HSBC in CanaryWharf. ListerSchool in Newham is one we are working with at present and we hope, are helping to raise aspirations.”

He also praised Westfield Stratford’s work with young people and older generations.

“They have made a major difference to local life,” he added, echoing comments Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales made to be in 2009 when he said Westfield “would be more important that the Olympics.”

ELBA’s Business Action Groups – funded by KPMG and the London Borough of Newham – are sustainable schools/businesses partnerships supporting the school as an institution and the skills and aspirations of the students.

Each term a group of representatives from a range of different businesses meet with the Head to hear about the priorities of the school and how businesses can bring support through the time skills and expertise of their employees. The support ranges from business skills and expertise which support the leadership and management of the schools and direct work with students on careers, employability, aspirations and skills.

The types of support include: school governors, HR and IT skills, procurement, leadership training, mentoring, coaching, enterprise volunteering days, pupils and teacher visits etc. This flagship programme is expanding to cover all the secondary schools in the borough.

Exciting times and the key now is to maintain that momentum to ensure that feel good factor continues…

This is the second of a number of features which appear in Your Docklands & City and Your Stratford City magazines,  published by Your Media London


One Comment

  1. Rebecca
    October 25, 2021


    I thought I would mention that it looks like the word “abbatoir” is spelled incorrectly on your website. I’ve seen some tools to help with problems like this such as or I just thought you should know!


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