John celebrates 100th job with Mayor's help
November 06, 2008
The 100th person to be helped into work thanks to Newham's Mayor's Employment Project (MEP) is John Knowles, a lorry driver working on the Olympic village site in Stratford.
Mr Knowles, who lives in Forest Gate, had been unemployed for seven years, but thanks to almost a year's support from his workcoach Catherine Adamek at the MEP, he now works for Careys, a sub-contractor to Bovis, which is responsible for building much of the athletes' village.
Mr Knowles was among group of people who have benefited from the project to attend an awards ceremony at Workplace in Stratford. In addition to marking the achievements of the 100 people, it also marked the first anniversary of the project.
Father of three Mr Knowles, 39, was unemployed for seven years, and at one stage was homeless and suicidal. But he said Workplace and the Mayor's Employment Project have turned his life around.
His downward spiral began when his marriage broke down, which led to depression and the loss of his job. He had always worked before, as a warehouseman, and said the lack of work and the breakdown severely affected him.
"It was through these schemes that I got my courage back, I had always wanted to work, I didn't realise that it had been so long."
Mr Knowles, who was homeless for three months, added: "Other courses that I went on were not very good, this has been a lot of help."
"I love this job, I am driving people all around the Olympic site. I'm happy, it's good money and good hours, I never want to go back on the dole again."
The groundbreaking Mayor's Employment Project supports people into work who would otherwise be on benefits, and for whom employment would mean a cut in the amount of money coming in.
Legislation currently allows for four weeks' housing benefit to be paid to people in this position to help them find a job, but Newham's scheme can pay up to a year's housing benefit. This means employment would leave them better off financially than relying on benefits.
Newham's elected Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, said: "This project targets those who have never worked and the long-term unemployed. These groups often find themselves stuck in a benefits trap, which sadly, in some cases, equates to a poverty trap.
"I'm really pleased John and 99 other people have found work, this is good news for Newham and hopefully, a lot more people will benefit in the future."
Steve Regan, structures manager for Careys Group, which employs Mr Knowles, said: "John is the first person we have taken on through the project and we are very pleased with his work. He is very dedicated and that is really refreshing.
"Sometimes you go to these schemes and the people are not suitable, but Workplace and the Mayor's Employment Project have really done well, I'll definitely approach the team again next time I need staff."
Employers and individuals who would like more information or to book an appointment can call 020 8430 4331 or visit the Workplace website www.newhamworkplace.co.uk