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New employment and skills centre launches in Tower Hamlets

Fruit and Wool Exchange 2 web

A new employment and skills centre at the former Fruit and Wool Exchange in the heart of London’s Spitalfields has been launched by Tower Hamlets Council.

The centre will eventually provide access to job and career support for people living in Tower Hamlets, but in the short-term it has been provided to Poplar HARCA to use to run an arts and leadership programme for young people.

Cllr Motin Uz-Zaman, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Work, Economic Growth and Faith officially opened the centre in Brushfield Street on Friday (11 March).

Cllr Motin Uz-Zaman, said: “This is a great resource for the people of Tower Hamlets in a busy part of our borough. Our long-term plan for this is for an employment centre that will help people get the skills they need to progress in their career. But in the short term, I am delighted that Poplar HARCA are using the space to run a programme for our young people. This will give them opportunities to learn new skills, but also to demonstrate their talents and show their potential.”

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “We’re committed to supporting residents into employment, and this new centre will be very beneficial to both residents and our local businesses. We’re working hard to support our borough’s recovery from the pandemic, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results from this new centre.”

Babu Bhattacherjee, Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods at Poplar HARCA added: “We are thrilled to be bringing our innovative Spotlight arts and empowerment programmes for young people to this great new space in Spitalfields. We will be working with partners and local residents to provide an inspiring offer of community activities for all ages, aimed at increasing skills and helping everyone fulfil their aspirations.”

The centre located in the basement of a new building, which sits behind the Fruit and Wool Exchange’s historic retained façade. It was gifted to the Council as part of planning obligations.

While being managed by Poplar HARCA it will address the lack of youth provision in this area and the gap in high quality arts provision. The housing association will also work in partnership with Toynbee Hall to manage the centre.

A varied programme of activities is planned for young local people and residents, including exhibitions to highlight young artists’ work and accredited courses. The space will also be used for partnership meetings and events with youth providers, arts providers, voluntary, community and charitable groups.

Posted on Tuesday 15th March 2022