Construction charity Building Lives to close its doors

June 8, 2016 / Isla MacFarlane
Construction charity Building Lives to close its doors

Trustees of the charity have been forced to take the decision to cease all operations because of a lack of sustainable funding.

“This decision has not been taken lightly,” Building Lives said in a statement. “Given the skills crisis in London, it is incredibly disappointing that we are unable to continue with our model, especially as it provides huge value for money for the tax payer.”

Over the next month, Building Lives’ main focus will to be complete all training programmes where possible and to assist remaining learners to gain employment or further learning in the construction industry.

Training academies will be handed back to Building Lives’ partners to determine their future purpose from 30 June 2016. “Between now and then every possible step will be taken to maintain a construction training facility in those boroughs and Building Lives will work closely with social landlords to help forge new relationships and local funding arrangements,” the company said. “Building Lives’ 16 staff have been served redundancy notices and we will also be helping them to secure new opportunities.”

Building Lives, started by Lakehouse founder Steve Rawlings in 2010, took those furthest from the workforce and trained them for careers in construction. Building Lives’ closure comes at a time when skills shortages in construction are undermining the government’s aim of building a million new homes in five years.

To put a young person through a Building Lives traineeship costs just £4,000. On average 8 out of 10 people on our Careership training programmes go into work or apprenticeships. This contrasts with the cost of a young person being out of work to the UK economy of £165,000. Last year, the Further Education (Skills Funding Agency) budget in England alone was £7.5 billion. At the same time, the construction Industry Training Board raised £120 million from across the construction sector to tackle the skills shortage.

Building Lives Managing Director Sian Workman said, “In order to continue operating for another year, Building Lives needed £900,000 to deliver 380 Careerships across four Training Academies based in the heart of London Council Estates. That’s a drop in the ocean compared to how much money is spent for no guaranteed job outcomes. The bottom line is, although a Careership may not have fitted with existing government funding criteria, it led to real construction jobs, helping reduce unemployment and the skills shortage – ultimately, benefiting us all.

“I am deeply disappointed we have failed in our attempts to secure the financial support needed from government and the construction sector to continue. However, I am also incredibly proud of what the team has accomplished since Building Lives first opened its doors. Proud that we dared to be different and in the process supported more then a thousand people into construction careers. Proud that we genuinely tried to make a real difference to our society. And no matter what, that is something we will hold on to.

“We hope the legacy and learning left behind, will assist other organisations to support people into construction careers.”

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all partners, stakeholders and friends for their support and commitment over the years. Together we have built many lives across London.”

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