‘Opening Doors’ – An opportunity to keep the ‘Good Society’

Photo: Philip Saunders

Closing down the ‘Opening Doors’ service, which as reported by ELL helps the unemployed in Lewisham, will represent a body blow to many people. At a time when so many are losing their jobs, it seems an indefensible act, which will again throw human capital to the dogs in this age of austerity.

Everyone understands the challenges for local councils as they face funding cuts from central government and are forced to reduce expenditure over the next few years. But isn’t it short sighted to take away the very services that help people lead productive lives and fulfill their potential in society?

Testimonials posted in the window at ‘Opening Doors’ attest to its positive role: “This service is vital, especially with the number of redundancies increasing and more cutbacks expected,” and “I couldn’t afford the fees for Health & Safety training previously but through ‘Opening Doors’ I trained and sat my CSCS exam. I am now in full time employment.”

The team helps the most vulnerable members of society by providing assistance to minority groups, the over-50s and those on incapacity benefit. Central government claims that many benefit recipients should be working, so it seems bitterly ironic to terminate an organisation committed to this end.

As in business, it is important to fully consider the long-term consequences of spending decisions, as when mistakes are made, it ends up costing far more money in the long run.

It seems that we are in real danger of knocking away the pillars of a caring society long before David Cameron’s vision of a “big society” even starts to fill the void.

Tomorrow Labour Mayor, Sir Steve Bullock, will receive a petition to reconsider the decision to close ‘Opening Doors.’ By changing direction before it’s too late, he has the perfect opportunity to make decisions with longevity for local finances and illustrate his commitment to the “good society” in Lewisham.

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