In this blog quantitative researcher, Mahdy Alraie, compares his earlier findings about the barriers to work participants of Refugees Into Sustainable Employment (RISE) with participants on Southwark Works. 

Mahdy Alraie

We support people into sustainable work by giving them one-to-one support with an employment advisor. This often means helping them overcome barriers to employment like work experience, language skills and low confidence but there are many other reasons why participants may not be in employment. 

Having tracked those barriers for over 18 months now, we know that 72% of participants on the Refugees Into Sustainable Employment (RISE) programme have reported four or more barriers to employment and that a recurring barrier reported to our employment advisors is housing. You can read more about that in this post

This new post compares data from RISE with that of Southwark Works, which supports people who have been unemployed for 12 months or more, and are aged over 50 years old.  

So what can the IMD data tell us about the participants on this South London programme and how does it compare with the areas of North London, where we deliver RISE? 

Does location make a difference?  

When comparing the areas we deliver the two programmes with the distribution of IMD across London (green map below), I can see that some of the people we work with on RISE are based in the more deprived local authorities such as Hackney, Haringey, and Barking & Dagenham. 

In fact, when looking at the overall IMD score, 61% of RISE participants live in the 30% most deprived areas, while almost three quarters of Southwark Works participants live in these areas 74%. 

When I combine the two patches, we see that 64% of RISE and Southwark Works participants combined live in the 30% most deprived neighbourhoods, and only 2% live in the 30% least deprived neighbourhoods

On the left: Number of Renaisi participants by local authority created by Flourish studio. On the right: Distribution of IMD2019 in London by local authority 

By delving into the breakdown of IMD scores by domain, we can get more of an understanding of the key drivers of deprivation in an area, and consider if these may be significant barriers to employment.   

While there are some key differences between the areas; participants on Southwark Works live in places where they are less likely to face education and skills deprivation and more likely to face health and disability deprivation, it’s clear that housing is still the most significant barrier to employment.  

Renaisi’s participants by IMD sub-domains  

Most deprived [1-3] IMD – domains breakdown Refugees Into Sustainable Employment Southwark Works 
Overall IMD 61% 74% 
Income 64% 69% 
Employment 47% 46% 
Education and Skills 23% 2% 
Health and Disability 18% 34% 
Crime 54% 57% 
Barriers to Housing and Services 92% 97% 
Living Environment 67% 84% 

As the table illustrates the proportion of participants on Southwark works living in the most deprived areas relating to barriers to housing and services is even higher for participants of Southwark Works (97%) than it is for RISE participants (92%). Similarly, a higher proportion of participants on Southwark Works live in the 30% most deprived areas for living environment (84% compared with 67% on RISE). 

While 47% of RISE participants and 46% of Southwark Works participants live in the 30% most deprived areas relating to employment.  

What can be done?  

We have been tailoring our support based on the reported needs of our participants for some time now, we have been establishing more links with local housing associations, and the IMD data supports our approach. But there is more to be done to respond to the housing needs we encounter. 

Funders shouldn’t look at employment as the only outcome, rather, support interventions that first address housing issues. We believe this will lead to successful employment outcomes.”

Ade Adebowale, Programme Manager Southwark Works.

We urge funders of employment services to embed housing support into future employment project outcomes so that this significant barrier is acknowledged as a key to sustainable employment, in the same way that interview or IT skills are.  

We would also like to see support for a more joined-up approach, with other services and the public sector, to achieving outcomes for people facing multiple barriers to employment.