Abbey Wood is situated in the London Borough of Greenwich. According to recent research findings, Greenwich is the 10th most deprived borough in London. Some of the wards identified as containing areas of extreme deprivation are Abbey Wood, Woolwich Common, Woolwich Riverside and Thamesmead Moorings.
Around 26% of the borough’s residents are from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups with the highest percentage living in Woolwich Common, Woolwich Riverside, Glyndon and Plumstead. The distribution of disadvantage mirrors the distribution of BME residents to a large extent. The largest non-White group is the Black African group (13%) and this is comprised mainly of Nigerians, Ghanaians and Somali. Since 2004, there has also been a rapid increase in the numbers of people from Eastern Europe.
Greenwich has an above average proportion of unemployed adults receiving benefits and this number has increased rapidly since 2007. Many out of work adults do not receive Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Different communities have different levels of need with the recently arrived refugee communities having the highest level of need. These needs include:
• Adequate facilities to learn English (ESOL classes)
• Familiarising parents and families with the education system and helping children adjust to school
• Access to employment
• Access to healthcare
The Congregation of the Mission (Abbey Wood) plans to address some of these needs by:
• Referring unemployed clients to suitable training courses and employment support services eg. job search help, skills training and work experience;
• Running GCSE Revision courses for secondary school students attending school in the local area;
• Opening a supplementary school in 2012
• Referring clients to Housing advisers
• Referring clients to legal advisers
• Organising advice sessions and workshops on employment, health, housing and crime.