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Kier site manager: ‘Building Lives was my springboard from homelessness'

Kier site manager and former apprentice Krystle Monaghan tells Construction News how Building Lives helped her turn her life around.

Three years ago, Krystle Monaghan was homeless. The 26-year-old had left school at 14 without any qualifications and, through older friends, became involved in drinking and drug use.

Today, she is a site manager at Kier. She has gained NVQ Levels 1, 2, and 3 and is preparing to start a degree in construction management with the contractor.

“I would not have been able to get this far without Building Lives,” she says.

“They support you to completely change your life; not just with the [construction] training but with support in your personal life as well.”

Krystle says she had always had a passion for construction, particularly painting and decorating, but the traditional route of school and college had not been an option for her due to her personal circumstances.

She was introduced to Building Lives in 2011 through services in Camden while she was staying in hostel accommodation.

“I had no formal qualifications and nothing much behind me at that point.

“Building Lives offered practical onsite experience and training in everything you need to get qualified as an operative.”

Krystle completed her pre-apprenticeship training at the Building Lives Academy in Camden and did a multi-skilled apprenticeship with Kier in 2012.

Around 10 per cent of Building Lives apprentices are women, compared with an industry average of 1 per cent, according to Building Lives.

Krystle encountered some challenges on sites which, she says, were “typical sites; male-dominated and sometimes ignorant”, but that Building Lives helped to make it easier for her.

“I had an apprenticeship officer to monitor how things were going on site and to have meetings when I needed them,” she says.

Krystle is still working for Kier today, and with support from the contractor has climbed the ladder from being an onsite operative to a site supervisor, assistant site manager and now site manager.

Without Building Lives, Krystle says she would not have had the basic qualifications to take the first step in her career.

Gaining those qualifications also gave her the motivation and confidence to continue to succeed.

“Building Lives was my springboard. They give you the basics; I did not have anything.”

She adds that the training and support she got from Building Lives have given her more than a career.

“I’m happy in my life,” she says.

“Now, I have got stability. I’ve got better working relationships. I’ve got my independence.”

Kier has backed the #loveLIVES campaign with a donation of £20,000.

The firm, which last week announced the £265m acquisition of Mouchel, became the fifth contractor along with Canary Wharf Contractors Fund, Laing O’Rourke, Morgan Sindall and Lakehouse to pledge £20,000.

Kier chief executive Haydn Mursell said: “Building Lives has made a tangible difference to Kier, as we count their new recruits among our workforce. 

“Krystle Monaghan is a fantastic example of how Building Lives can help open doors to people, setting them on a path to an exciting and fulfilling career.”

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