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We did it: #loveLIVES campaign raises £400,000 in 50 days

The #loveLIVES campaign has reached its target, raising an incredible £400,000 in 50 days to save Building Lives and the future of budding London apprentices.

On Monday, the final day of the campaign, an astonishing £90,000 was raised, with housebuilder Bellway, KPMG and Mace among those to pledge their support.

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

Steve Rawlings, Building Lives

A further £10,000 came from Canary Wharf Contractors Fund along with several anonymous donations.

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

The money raised means Building Lives can stay afloat and help put Londoners through apprenticeships over the next three months and beyond.

As well as company donations, dozens of individuals voiced their support online at cnplus.co.uk and by reaching into their own pockets to back the campaign.

Building Lives founder and CEO Steve Rawlings told Construction News 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.”

“There is a difference between doing things right and doing right things; this was the right thing to do”

Bill Hill, Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity

The organisation was forced to close two of its 10 academies while the campaign was being run by Construction News, KPMG and the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity.

Its Camden academy, opened by mayor Boris Johnson in 2010, has closed, while its Camberwell academy in Southwark will close next month when the current crop of trainees working there finish their training.

The organisation was forced to make 12 of its 37 staff redundant and find new apprentice schemes with other training organisations for some of the young people hit by the lack of funding.

However, thanks to the #loveLIVES campaign, Building Lives now hopes to take on around 860 trainees and apprentices in the year from September.

What you said about #loveLIVES on cnplus

“The future of our industry will be in safe hands with initiatives like this!” – James Horton, Laing O’Rourke

“A great idea, keep it going” – Paul Watkins, Morgan Sindall

“Keep up the hard work, a great cause for the industry to get involved with” – Brian Manning, Esh Group

“The industry needs Building Lives – they are a breath of fresh air” – Kim Robinson, Hy-Scaff

“Real apprenticehips in vital industries are so valuable to construction” – Sue Harris, CampbellReith

“Doing our best to support apprentices into work - good luck everyone” – Emma Paton, Ewell Castle School

The money will be distributed to Building Lives on a monthly basis between now and September via the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity’s education fund, which ringfenced the funds raised during the campaign.

Lighthouse Club chief executive Bill Hill said: “We’re delighted to have got the ball rolling on this campaign.

“There is a difference between doing things right and doing right things; I’m glad this has been successful because this was the right thing to do.”

KPMG head of corporate responsibility Roisin Murphy said organisations such as Building Lives were critical to helping tackle the housing shortage.

“It has been a very trying time and now this is truly over we can go back to building even better lives”

Karl Vidol, Building Lives

“At present, the demand for housing outstrips supply and one way to combat this is to ensure there is a pipeline of talented people from diverse backgrounds to help unemployed individuals into construction careers.”

Building Lives drylining tutor Karl Vidol said: “The campaign being successful means we can concentrate on getting our learners through successful completion of their programme.

“It has been a very trying time and now this is truly over we can go back to building even better lives.”

The social enterprise has submitted its application for funding from September to the Skills Funding Agency with support from Carshalton and Barking and Dagenham colleges.

This will enable it to operate under a new model from September.

It will offer apprenticeships in brickwork; drylining; painting and decorating; carpentry; and formwork.

A number of contractors have pledged to take on apprentices trained by Building Lives since the campaign was launched.

“Lots of different parts of the industry have backed us, which has been overwhelming”

Sian Workman, Building Lives

These include Galliford Try, Keepmoat, Lakehouse, Longcross, Morgan Sindall and Mulalley.

Building Lives interim managing director Sian Workman said: “This is an incredible achievement.

“To have raised that amount in such a short space of time is amazing.

“Lots of different parts of the industry have backed us, which has been overwhelming.”

The organisation also hopes to open a new academy in Newham and is in talks with sponsors such as the Silvertown Project and Crossrail over potential support.

Building Lives has identified a site with 2,100 sq m of land where an extra 250 young people a year could be trained in a new academy.

It could eventually expand into areas including Wandsworth, Lambeth, Brent, Barnet, Redbridge, Ealing and Bromley.

Ms Workman said: “For now, we need to get the new training programme off the ground. Then we can start recruiting and growing under the new model.”

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