Goldsmiths, University of London has pledged to support a new ‘Lewisham Deal’ designed to cut poverty across the College’s home borough, one of a number of proposals included in a landmark report by the Lewisham Poverty Commission published this week.
The move will see the College explore creating more opportunities for local apprentices and ensuring that even more local businesses are given opportunities to compete for supply contracts.
The Commission was launched in February 2017 to investigate poverty in the Borough of Lewisham and make recommendations to the local Mayor and Cabinet. The Commission brought together Lewisham Councillors, national experts and key figures from the local community to look in detail at the nature of poverty in Lewisham, and develop innovative approaches to reducing poverty.
One of the Commissioners was Dr Simon Griffiths, Senior Lecturer in Politics at Goldsmiths, who contributed his expertise to the report.
The 'Lewisham Deal' is envisaged as a partnership of public sector employers across housing, health and education who would work together to provide more local apprenticeships, promote the Living Wage and create more opportunities for local businesses to trade.
The College has paid its staff and contractors the London Living Wage, which currently stands at £9.75 an hour (and more than 20% above the National Minimum Wage), since 2011.
Currently, around 40% of Goldsmiths suppliers are based in London, with over £8m being spent annually by the College with suppliers based locally in south east London. The College will now develop plans for encouraging more local business to join the register of suppliers enabling them to bid for contracts at Goldsmiths and other London universities.
Nationally, figures published this week by Universities UK suggest that universities contribute £21.5 billion to the UK economy annually, greater than that of the whole accountancy sector.
Patrick Loughrey, Warden of Goldsmiths, University of London said: “Goldsmiths is proud of our deep roots in the Borough of Lewisham and we are determined to play our part alongside other local partners to help alleviate and eradicate poverty in the area. The College has made an important contribution to the academic thinking and research models behind the report, but now the challenge is to turn the words into actions that make a real difference for local people who are struggling to get by.
“As an employer of around 1,500 people, many of whom live locally, Goldsmiths makes a considerable contribution to Lewisham’s economy, but this report encourages us to go further to boost local businesses and create opportunities for young people to learn work skills. It is a challenge I relish as a way of reinforcing our foundations as a place of learning that belongs to local people, and serves to enrich our community.”
Dr Simon Griffiths said: “It's been great working with Lewisham Council to look at what we can all do to help fight poverty in the borough. At Goldsmiths, we do our best to make sure that theory and practice come together and that our research makes a real difference to improving people's lives. This report shows that through working with the local community, and reflecting on the practical implications of our work, we can do just that.”
The aims set out in the report, including identifying more apprenticeship places within Goldsmiths’ workforce, will feed into the College’s new institutional strategy for 2018-2023, to be published in the new year.