Tom Lawler tells Construction News how he went from selling drugs to full-time work with the help of Building Lives.
Tom Lawler works for Mears, providing repair and maintenance services to Sutton Housing Partnership tenants in south London.
He got the work through Building Lives after completing his NVQ Level 2 apprenticeship, but says he owes more than just his job to the organisation.
“Building Lives changed my whole life and outlook around. Before that, I was not going [to] good places,” he says.
“I spent years just selling drugs.”
Tom left school with no qualifications and was unemployed before the Job Centre sent him to Building Lives to train for a career in construction.
“Building Lives changed my whole life and outlook around. Before that, I was not going good places”
“I’ve got two kids and, before I started with Building Lives, I wouldn’t have been a very good role model to my kids, doing what I was doing.
“Now, I’m out working full-time. Things are completely different, my outlook and everything.”
Tom says the pre-apprenticeship training was difficult at first, and he was concerned about getting through each stage, but adds it was “well worth it”.
He completed his apprenticeship with Rydon, on the Sutton Housing Partnership project. Mears took over the Sutton contract in January 2015 and Tom was taken on by the contractor to continue in his role.
“I’ve got two kids and, before I started with Building Lives, I wouldn’t have been a very good role model to my kids”
Mears has since offered him the opportunity to do an NVQ Level 3 and specialise in a trade.
“Even if this this work finished now, gaining the experience I’ve gained through it, I know I wouldn’t have to go back to doing what I was doing before.”
He says Building Lives also helped to improve his confidence, helping him be more successful at work.
“From going in there, I didn’t really have any [confidence]. Then coming out, the amount of confidence I’ve got now in terms of work is a lot better.”
“The effort that the staff go to, even in their own time, they take seriously what they do. They genuinely care”
Tom was shocked to hear that almost 200 Building Lives trainees may not get to complete their apprenticeships, and says it is “ridiculous” that others like him may not benefit from Building Lives’ support.
“The effort that the staff go to, even in their own time, they take seriously what they do; they genuinely care,” he says
“In school, I wasn’t one of the good kids; I came out with nothing.
“But Building Lives still managed to help me; if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be in the position I am now.”