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Podcast: Construction News visits Building Lives' Camden Academy, one year on from #loveLIVES

Construction News deputy editor Tom Fitzpatrick and features editor Daniel Kemp visited Building Lives’ Camden academy recently to find out what the future holds for the organisation.

Building Lives was kept afloat last year after the #loveLIVES campaign by Construction News, the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity and KPMG raised £400,000 in 50 days.

Since then, the money raised has helped to keep staff in permanent employment and send young people into full-time careers in construction.

The #loveLIVES campaign was backed by some of the UK’s biggest contractors, developers and house builders, as well as politicians including then mayor of London Boris Johnson and the former skills minister Matt Hancock.

It was hoped that the organisation would survive longer-term through an application for funding from the Skills Funding Agency with support from Carshalton and Barking and Dagenham colleges.

However the organisation submitted a business case to the SFA to deliver 780 careerships during the new academic year 2015/16 but had its funding application turned down.

With the #loveLIVES money, Building Lives established a careership model. This means the people who learn their trade with Building Lives focuse on key trades where there are skills shortages such as brickwork and drylining and the emphasis is put on getting them into full-time work.

Following the campaign, its Camden academy was reopened and dozens of young people have undertaken training there at a cost of around £4,000 each, with local employers including Swift now taking them on full-time.

However the organisation has no long-term funding and is now again faced with closure. It has started a petition lobbying CITB for £250,000 funding from a new training pot.

Podcast: #loveLIVES - One Year On

Construction News has made a special podcast, looking at the organisation, its industry support and the trouble it faces securing funding for a long-term future.

CN deputy editor Tom Fitzpatrick and features editor Daniel Kemp visited Building Lives’ Camden academy one year after the #loveLIVES campaign.

Among the interviewees at Camden Academy were: Cormac MacCrann, chairman of the Lighthouse charity and Canary Wharf Contractors MD; Mark Farmer; CEO of consultant Cast; Building Lives trustee and KPMG’s UK head of construction Richard Threlfall; and Building Lives employees and trainees.

David Orr, National Housing Federation chief executive and Building Lives chairman, appealed to the government and private sector for support for the organisation.

You can listen to the podcast here:

For more on Building Lives, visit its website or see its petition for CITB funding here:

For more on the #loveLIVES campaign, including those industry companies who supported it, see:

David, one of the people training at the academy, told Construction News: “[Building Lives] is the best thing that has happened to me in 31 years of my life.

“I have done the CSCS seven times and failed. The eighth time, here, I passed straight away. It gives you more of an opportunity in life, it opens your eyes, you meet new people. It’s the best thing that’s happened to me, really.”

The group has undergone several changes in key personnel in the last year.

Chairman and founder Steve Rawlings has taken more of a back seat and has been named life president. David Orr has replaced him as chairman, while KPMG’s Richard Threlfall has become a Building Lives trustee.

Mr Orr, the National Housing Federation’s chief executive, called for greater political support for the organisation: “What we all feel is that the apprenticeship levy ought to be an opportunity. There are lots of employers who would like to put their levy money into supporting Building Lives.

“At the moment the rules say we are not doing the right thing, so our challenge is to win the argument about the model we have created here as well.”

Cormac MacCrann, chairman of the Lighthouse charity and Canary Wharf Contractors MD; said: “We need the politicans to get behind operations like Building Lives because it’s by far the most effective model for training young people that I have come across.”






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