Community Links

Community Links blog

Posts Tagged ‘geraldine blake’

Business in the Commuity: Charities and businesses working in partnership.

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Community Links Chief Executive, Geraldine Blake spoke recently at the Business in the CommunityCommunities Summit“. Community Links was invited to contribute as one of the BitC Community Partners.

In the video interview below Geraldine identifies how life is becoming  even tougher for those young people we work with, growing up in east London. Young people are facing a bleak future,  youth unemployment is rocketing; family poverty is increasing and consequently aspirations are plummeting. At the same time funding for our early action work in youth clubs,  play centres and supporting families is declining.

Geraldine addresses the potential for business and charities to to discuss a different type of support,  which will enable the charities to continue meet the needs of those at it’s doors whilst also developing new business models for the future.

She reflects on the need to tip the balance to create longer term, mutually beneficial, deeper engagement between business and charities to achieve stronger organisations, and better connections and understanding between all our communities. Building a relationship where charities and business can think together about the causes of the problems in our communities is preferable to constantly dealing with the consequences.


If you would like to find out more about how we work in partnership with business and how we might work together better in the future – please get in touch.

A long hot summer in east London

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Yesterday our Chief Executive Geraldine Blake spoke at the TUC seminar on the Future of Civil Society, and tomorrow will be on a panel at the Guardian Public Services Summit. She is highlighting the potential problems a long hot summer in east London will bring if charities like Community Links are forced to close many of our services. Her article below featured on the Guardian website earlier this week.

Community Links has been working in east London for over 30 years. We know that with the right help at the right time, individuals, families, and neighbourhoods can tackle the issues they face, and overcome insurmountable challenges.

So we are pleased to see the belief in the potential of communities that underpins the localism agenda. We should now have an amazing opportunity to ramp up that potential – the ‘big society’, more support for volunteering and social enterprises, less direction nationally, more flexibility locally, the right to buy, the right to bid and fewer ring-fenced budgets.

Two years ago we opened a Community Hub on the Rokeby estate. A resident committee identify what is most needed and plan the programme, running many activities themselves (walking groups, cooking classes, a choir). The local police attribute a drop in crime and anti-social behaviour on the estate of 56% in the first year, to our work. It has stayed down – the big society in action.

Before we built the hub, we used to visit the estate regularly; our outreach youthwork team responds to hotspots, where young people are attracting nuisance complaints. They arrive in advance of the police, and engage the young people, diverting them to positive activity and acting as a translator between young people and the enforcement teams who will follow behind, ensuring that normal teenage behaviour is not criminalised, but also that young people understand the consequences of engaging in criminal activity. Not surprisingly, this also results in a drop in crime.

Both these projects result in savings to the public purse. However, both are at high risk of closing at the end of March. We all expected cuts, but the scale and speed is undermining the potential that localism could bring. We will close the doors of community centres and withdraw outreach teams at exactly the same time that local councils cut services and the local police lose numbers.

So imagine what a long hot summer is likely to bring. A rise in anti-social behaviour, fewer young people looking forward to college as the withdrawal of Education Maintenance Allowance bites, or a job as youth unemployment rockets.

There will be fewer summer activities to lift the sense of rising hopelessness that many will feel. Communities without the spaces and support to tackle anti-social behaviour themselves will rely more on the police; who will have had to cut community support officers, so it will be enforcement officers who arrive.

Young people risk being directed straight into the criminal justice system, where they will be influenced by other troubled young people rather than by positive role models.

This will result in higher costs for individuals, communities and the state for years to come.

The government believes that communities will fill the gaps. But for communities to be effective, they need to be the partner of the state and not the alternative.

Government thinks that social enterprises will spring up. But services for the most vulnerable will always rely on public funds and will simply never be self sustaining. The government hopes that business will step in. But the message so far from business is that they are already committed to the extent that they can be.

We’re working furiously to develop payment by results models and to demonstrate the value of investment in this work. But it takes time to redesign systems and the relationship between sectors – more than this government is allowing us.

In a year’s time, when the government inevitably announces a range of special programmes for failing communities (remember City Challenge?), let’s just hope some of the organisations who work so effectively in communities are still here to fix things.

There is no way round it, the Big Society still needs money

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Our CEO Geraldine Blake has written a piece for the Guardian showing that for work like ours, money is going to be just as necessary in an age of cuts, but that we might have to find more innovative ways to get it. The East London Bond, which will benefit Community Links and another outstanding east London organisation, the Bromley by Bow centre, is a great example.