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How the industry rallied round Building Lives

In March 2015 the Building Lives charity established by Steve Rawlings in 2010 faced closure.

The social enterprise, created by Mr Rawlings to help disadvantaged young people into careers in construction, had previously received around a third of its funding from the CITB, but had that funding withdrawn due to falling outside grant scheme rules.

“The industry needs Building Lives – they are a breath of fresh air”

Kim Robinson, Hy-Scaff

With 180 apprenticeships and 40 jobs at risk, KPMG, the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity and Construction Newslaunched the #loveLIVES campaign in April 2015 to raise the £400,000 needed to keep the charity open.

The response from the industry was unprecedented: #loveLIVES reached its target in an incredible 50 days.

The campaign saw contractors, housebuilders, developers and individuals making pledges ranging from £25 up to £50,000.

Steve Rawlings told Construction News at the time that the social enterprise had been overwhelmed by the support shown by the industry.

“This will make a real difference to thousands of people now,” he said. “I can’t thank everyone enough.”

“The future of our industry will be in safe hands with initiatives like this”

James Horton, Laing O’Rourke

The successful campaign secured the short-term funding for the organisation to stay afloat, retain its staff and continue to help young people into construction.

Since June 2015, Mr Rawlings’ charity has trained or engaged with 376 people.

However, in June this year Building Lives was forced to close after discussions to secure long-term funding fell through.

What they said: Tributes from Building Lives participants

Tom Timlin, drylining trainee: “I wanted to change my life around. Then I found out about Building Lives, so I’m coming in and trying to put my life back on track.”

Kayrakan Osman, drylining trainee: “Without Building Lives, I’m just a teenager out there with nothing to do, that can get into trouble. Building Lives gave me an opportunity to plan for the future.”

Reggie O’Donoghue, drylining trainee: “I had to change up my plans to get somewhere, and that’s how I found Building Lives. By getting a trade behind me, an NVQ Level 2, it doesn’t just set me up for a year or two, it sets me up for the next 20 years, next 30 years.”

Krystle Monaghan, Kier site manager: “I would not have been able to get this far without Building Lives. They support you to completely change your life; not just with the [construction] training but with support in your personal life as well.”

Tom Lawler, Mears: “Building Lives changed my whole life and outlook around. I’ve got two kids and, before I started with Building Lives, I wouldn’t have been a very good role model. Now, I’m out working full-time. The effort that the staff go to, even in their own time, they take seriously what they do; they genuinely care.”

Ben Hicks, painter and decorator, who Building Lives helped get back into work after an operation: “Building Lives was really important to me; without them, I wouldn’t be in the construction trade now. It’s allowed me to go out and do things with my son and daughter, whereas before I just didn’t have the money to.”

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