Employment minister comes to Tottenham to re-open Job Centre lost in riots

Employment minister Chris Grayling says the reopening of a Job Centre today shows a “renewed determination” to tackle problems in Tottenham.

The Conservative minister took a tour of the revamped centre in High Road and spoke to job seekers, who were already taking advantage of the new facilities on offer.

The building, which was destroyed during last year’s riots, is kitted out with modern equipment to allow users to browse up-to-date job vacancies.

A room is also dedicated to helping young people find out more about apprenticeships on offer in the borough, and another to helping people develop their interview technique.

Mr Grayling said: "I don’t buy the argument that the riots were caused by unemployment, but we do have a challenge that we have to face.

“It would be absolutely wrong for us to not understand there are problems in Tottenham, but this shows a renewed determination about changing people’s horizons.

“I think the reopening of the centre is really important. I wanted to say a big thank you to staff here, their work has made such a difference and they have done a brilliant job. It is nice to get them back.”

He said he will return to Tottenham in the future to see how well the Job Centre is helping people in the borough to get back into work.

According to the latest figures released by the Office of National Statistics, the number of people seeking work in Tottenham is the highest in London.

More than a fifth of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance are aged between 18 and 24, with more than half being out of work for more than six months.

More than 50 people, both young and old, were using the centre’s facilities this morning while Mr Grayling was touring the site.

Eslyn Mcnally, 16, who finished her education at Grieg City Academy in Hornsey High Street last year, spent this morning at the centre trying to find her first job.

Miss Mcnally, who lives in Tottenham, is searching for a job in childcare and is hopeful the centre will enable her to follow her dream.

Laura Avena, 18, who also lives in Tottenham, said: “I will take anything that they offer me. The Job Centre will make a big difference for people looking for work.”

Dennis Brown, who visited the job centre with two of his friends who are also looking for work, said: “We are not worried about the new building. I just hope it will make a difference, although there aren’t many jobs out there.”

Mr Brown, who lives in Tottenham, is worried about the long-term future of the Job Centre, as he is worried it will be lost again if riots strike the capital in the future.

The manager of the Job Centre, James Snelling, expressed his excitement about its return to Tottenham.

Mr Snelling, who started his role in the first week following the riots, said: “We are really thrilled to be back in the area and we seem to have begun with a big bang.

“I think what we have today is a real opportunity to show people how many opportunities there are out there.”

Staff from Homes for Haringey, London College of Beauty Therapy, Tottenham Hotspur Foundation and Urban Futures each held a stall to speak to job seekers about future opportunities for internships and apprenticeships.

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