Bristol, 14th April 2017 - Future Builders, the groundbreaking scheme to provide new skills and housing for at risk young people in Bristol, has today seen the first participants move into their new, self-renovated homes and secure long term employment. Launched in October 2016 by the OVO Foundation, in partnership with Bristol City Council, youth homelessness charity 1625 Independent People (1625ip) and South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS), Future Builders provides young people who have experienced homelessness with access to construction apprenticeships supported by decent, affordable housing leased by 1625ip at a peppercorn rent from Bristol City Council.
The participants in the Future Builders scheme have undertaken four months of practical pre-apprenticeship training at SGS College, including of the renovation of semi-derelict council properties in which they will now live. With support from 1625ip, they have also secured paid apprenticeships, building on the skills they have learnt, and can now start their journey to independence with support from 1625ip.
Future Builder, Sophie, explains: “I’m learning a lot of new skills and enjoying getting stuck in as part of a team. The atmosphere is really comfortable, everyone gets on really well. We had a challenge to redecorate a house in two days - we cruised through it! It looked so nice when it was finished. It’s proof of what you can actually achieve and I’m proud of myself. Now I want to work my way up to becoming a fully qualified painter and decorator then maybe start my own business. It’s a good gateway, there are so many opportunities, so much that's been open to me.”
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “The Future Builders scheme is one of several ways in which we’re tackling homelessness. It tackles so many issues in a perfectly planned programme, bringing old properties back to life and with the new skills the Future Builders will go on to a career in construction, an area in which Bristol lacks. The commitment to the project by all the partners has been inspiring and I look forward to seeing more projects in the near future.”
Future Builders was conceived by the OVO Foundation and 1625ip, both of which recognised the growing issue of homelessness on Bristol’s streets and the lack of opportunities for young people seeking a path into paid employment. By focusing on combining practical skills development with access to under-used housing, the scheme has not only provided education and long term employment opportunities, but has also returned previously unlivable housing to full time use.
Gaby Sethi, OVO Foundation Manager, commented: “Between the project partners - SGS College, 1625ip and Bristol City Council - we’re so proud of the positive impact Future Builders has had on the lives of the young people. We also had some great news a few weeks ago that the project’s been shortlisted for 'an outstanding approach to tackling homelessness' in the UK Housing Awards 2017. It’s great that the scheme has received recognition so early on, and we hope that due to its success in Bristol, it’s something that could be taken to other parts of the UK.”
Dom Wood, CEO of 1625ip, said: “The Future Builders scheme is designed to break the homelessness cycle by giving young people access to training opportunities, secure employment and affordable housing. The participants on the scheme should be really proud of everything they’ve achieved - they’ve not only worked hard to refurbish two semi-derelict properties that are now habitable, but they’ve also demonstrated high levels of commitment and tenacity which has resulted in them successfully securing an apprenticeship.”
Rich Appleyard, Operations Manager, SGS, said: “We are really proud of this group's achievements, they committed to the project fully and have proved to themselves that they can achieve great results with the right mindset and the support of a team who also believe in them. The effort that they all put in made teaching them new skills a very satisfying experience. The input from them all has given us some great ideas on how to further improve the project for future groups. A very worthwhile project for SGS to be involved with and help set up, with great outcomes for the learners’ futures.”
The apprenticeships or jobs the first participants in the Future Builders scheme have chosen include painting and decorating, maintenance, roofing and warehouse or customer service.
The OVO Foundation hopes that the project can continue to grow in Bristol and has ambitions to ensure more semi-derelict properties can be brought back into use through the scheme. Opportunities for the rollout of Future Builders in other UK cities are also currently being explored.
Notes to editors
For more information, please contact:
Tia Psihogios| Funding and Communication Officer | 1625 Independent People | 0117 317 7096
Sara-Jane Watkins| Principal | SGS College | 01453 763424 // 0117 9092399 // 0792 049 2059
Kirsty Stilwell | Public Relations | Bristol City Council | 0117 35 25633// 07467 335767
About OVO Foundation
OVO Foundation is OVO Energy’s charity. It was created in 2014 to expand OVO Energy’s charitable giving and bring caring closer to home. OVO Foundation’s mission is to support inspiring organisations with smart ideas in three areas: youth poverty, education, and energy and the environment. At the heart of it all is a mission to give young people a better future. Over 64,000 OVO Energy customers choose to donate to OVO Foundation each month by adding at least 25p to their monthly statement. OVO Energy matches all customer donations doubling the power of what can be achieved together.
The OVO Charitable Foundation (“OVO Foundation”) is a registered charity - 1155954.
To learn more, visit www.ovoenergy.com/foundation
About 1625 Independent People
1625 Independent People (Independent People / 1625ip), whose Future 4 Me project won the coveted National Lottery Award for Best Charity Project in the UK, exists to support young people aged 16-25 to build independent lives. They do this by helping young people to find and keep a safe, stable home and develop positive relationships. They offer non-judgmental support and advice, access to counselling, training and help finding jobs. They support around 2500 young people every year.
With 34 years’ experience of youth services, no other organisation in the area has the same depth of understanding of the sector. Independent People is a strong voluntary organisation which is strategically relevant and at the forefront of support provision for young homeless people in the South West.
An apprenticeship employer themselves, they were named 'Medium Employer of the Year' in Bristol Post & Bath Chronicle Apprentice Awards 2016.
Independent People is a charitable registered society (once known as ‘an industrial and provident society’) in accordance with the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (no.23964R) – in other words they’re a non-profit making charity.
For more information visit their website www.1625ip.co.uk.
OVO Energy Ltd, registered office 1 Rivergate Temple Quay Bristol, BS1 6ED, company no. 06890795 registered in England and Wales, VAT No. 100119879
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