As a community construction charity, PHASES needs to keep abreast of any changes in policy which might impact our affordable housing projects. As a training organisation, we’re conscious that our courses need to reflect industry needs, so that our trainees have reelvant skills. As a social enterprise, we’re busy finding ways to share best practice and to be more effective. Here’s what we’ve been doing lately to keep up to date in the fast-paced construction sector.
It’s twenty years ago this month that PHASES first began its journey and registered as a charity. Back then our name was Advocates for the Homeless and we concentrated on advice to homeless people across London. Over the past 15 years we’ve focussed on training homeless people in construction skills and renovating empty homes. We’ve brought over twenty properties back into use as affordable accommodation and trained more than 200 homeless people in that time. Thanks to all the people and organisations who have supported us in our work since 2001 !
We are pleased to confirm that, following the easing of lockdown restrictions, our construction training workshop in Rotherhithe is open again following a four-month closure. A bit of a backlog has built up but an initial new cohort of five trainees has now started. If you want to refer anyone who is currently or recently homeless, then drop an email to Stuart@phases.org.uk for more details.
PHASES has recently secured funding through the EQUIP Programme. This a joint European Social Fund and Employment and Skills Funding Agency programme of grants to community-based organisations to improve the employability of participants. The funding will cover the costs of our training workshop for the next 18 months and enable us to work with 30 homeless people from across London, improving their construction skills and helping them into further training and work opportunities.
It’s been a challenging year for our new recruitment project – Construction Buddy. Early on in 2020, we signed up an initial cohort of recruits for the service and since then we’ve been working hard behind the scenes: getting employers on board; finalising the infrastructure for Construction Buddy; and making our first placements. If the pandemic allows, we’ll be pushing this exciting project forward in 2021.
The Big Issue magazine runs a feature this month on the Government’s plans to enable developers to convert office space into residential accommodation, without the need for planning permission. Our Chief Executive gives his views on how a large programme to build social housing would be a great boost for construction and could provide opportunities for PHASES’ trainees.
PHASES has been working with the national campaigning charity, Action on Empty Homes, on the design of a ‘toolkit’ for use by communities and local authorities to help tackle empty homes. PHASES is part of a small ‘reference group’ feeding in our experience, particularly in relation to the situation in London. A first draft of the toolkit has been approved for further review. For more on this see https://www.actiononemptyhomes.org/blog/developing-new-aeh-community-toolkit
Unsurprisingly, the lockdown is having a major impact on our services. Our workshop in Rotherhithe is a compact space and we were forced to close our training activities there in March. That is likely to remain the case for some months. Our Construction Buddy recruitment project has also been affected due to the disruption faced by the construction industry. Work with candidates and employers for that project is on hold for the moment but planning for this new service continues. Meanwhile, we continue to provide maintenance and support services to our tenants; within government guidelines.
Over twenty candidates have now signed up for our Construction Buddy recruitment pilot. These are a combination of former trainees and new recruits. We’ll be bringing you some of their stories in the near future. Meanwhile, the next couple of months will see the launch of dedicated webpages to support Construction Buddy and we’ll be starting our drive to enlist as many construction industry employers as possible to offer opportunities to our candidates. So if you are a large, medium or small firm that might be able to offer work, apprenticeships or any other opportunity in the construction field, please contact email@example.com
We have now spoken with over thirty homeless organisations across London to introduce our new recruitment project ‘Construction Buddy’. We’ve visited a number of these organisations and as well as discussing future referrals to the project, we’ve also received really useful feedback on the design of Construction Buddy. The next stage of this one-year pilot will focus on the recruitment of our initial cohort of candidates. If you want to speak about any aspect of the project please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Our recruitment project ‘Construction Buddy’ embarks on its next stage from November, focussing its efforts on employers within the construction industry. If you are a large corporate enterprise or a Small Medium Enterprise (SME) involved in any aspect of construction, and can offer an apprenticeship or a paid job to one of our candidates, please contact email@example.com