Unemployment amongst older men was the topic of the workshop discussion at last night’s Inner South Community Committee (11 February 2015).
There was an opportunity to discuss issues around mental health, volunteering, physical activity and local services. People talked about the pain of unemployment and fear that they were being fobbed off with volunteering instead of real paid work. Others had positive experiences of using volunteering to gain new skills that led to a proper job.
It was good to hear that the real barriers to getting back into work once you’ve been out of work for a period of time were recognised. Agencies such as Leeds City College and the council as well as Job Centre Plus are actively working on programmes to help people over these obstacles.
There was realism that the economy of South Leeds had changed from manufacturing to services, but also anger about the prevalence of Zero Hours Contracts. A need for services to go to existing job club groups was also identified. Getting men together and talking, about anything, was seen to be the first step to breaking barriers and helping people move on.
In the formal part of the meeting councillors approved a number of grants including £12,000 to Woodhouse Hill Allotments who are planning to reclaim an overgrown plot of land and work with nearby Hunslet Carr Primary School.
Other grants were made to fund extra litter bins in Belle Isle and Middleton; well-being packs for vulnerable older residents; and a befriending service for people suffering low level mental health problems.
Issues raised by residents in the Open Forum included the issue of litter following refuse collections; dates for green bin collections; the state of paths in Cross Flatts Park; the design of Lane End Primary School by the motorway; and concerns about parking outside a garage on Dewsbury Road. All these issues will be looked into by the Area Support Team.
The next meeting of the Committee will be on Wednesday 25 March at Middleton Leisure Centre. There will be a workshop discussion about health and isolation issues from 5:30pm with the formal meeting taking place at 7pm.