KELP helps youngsters to get with the employment rhythm. If only government agencies could tap into this vital work…

by Paul Braithwaite

I was very impressed by the KELP, Kotuku Environmental Labourer Project, charity which helps long-term unemployed Londoners train as environmental labourers, finds them work experience for 26 weeks and mentors them during the work experience.

Andrew Pears, whose idea the charity was, used to be a builder. But it obviously was not enough to keep his mind as active as his body. He needed something more.

KELP obviously gives him this something extra.

Andrew gives the youngsters what many would call tough love and, crucially, the support which has to go with it. These two elements have often been lacking from the upbringing these youngsters of both sexes have received.

The trainees undergo a two-week training boot camp where they learn to be an environmentally-aware construction labourer.

If one of them is late for the interview or late for a training session, he is out of the project.

Andrew says it is about the trainees getting out of bed and into the rhythm of employment.

He is not interested in the past these young unemployed might have, only the future.

He has a pretty good record too.

He started the project in July 2012 and since then some 42 youngsters have found jobs in construction and waste management and 32 of them are still employed, five of them in waste management.

Andrew has to keep his eye in the finances too. He started with a Big Lottery Fund grant but the money will run out sometime.

I would like to suggest that this is one project that should not be canned.

Government has spent millions and millions of pounds funding job schemes, most of which have made the providers lots of money but have done relatively little for the unemployed.

KELP has, I suspect, done its worthwhile work with relatively little funding. It is a great pity Andrew’s charity is small and probably beneath the establishment’s radar.

Government would do well to take Andrew’s idea – it could make him one of those highly-paid consultants (but he would probably be worth it) – and replicate it across the country, working with people like him who care and will do a worthwhile job with little recognition and much less money.

The next training boot camp is on March 10 if anyone wants to nominate someone for the project.

Andrew’s email is andrew@kotuku.org and his telephone number is 07958 948 467.

Charity Number: 1118616 | Company Number: 4323551