Building Heroes, the charity that supports veterans and service leavers in to the construction industry, has had an extremely busy last few months. With new centres opening in Trowbridge, Wiltshire in September and Aldershot, Hampshire in January, the organisation now has five venues across England (two, in West Sussex and Cheshire, with accommodation on-site), with plans to open in the North East and Salisbury shortly. What’s more, after just three years working in partnership with colleges, the charity recently held a special event at its West Sussex centre to celebrate its 500th graduate.
Speaking at the event, CEO Brendan Williams said:
“When we started this, I definitely never thought I would stand in front of a room of guests and say, somewhere in our cohort, is our 500th graduate. But to give you a sense of the journey we’re on, this time next year we hope to be celebrating our 1000th graduate. It’s taken five years to get here; it will take one year to do as many again. What an amazing journey.”
Working in partnership with local colleges, Building Heroes is able to provide high quality training for those looking to transition in to the construction industry. Those who attend the 5-week intensive course will leave with a Level 1 certificate in Construction Skills, a Level 1 Health and Safety Certificate and a CSCS card, which enables them to go straight in to employment on a construction site.
One of the key elements of the Building Heroes offer is that the organisation will support learners throughout the course and look to help them progress upon completion. A recent graduate, Neil, from our West Sussex cohort, explains how the course has helped him.
“I’d been out of work and in a rut for a couple of years. My caseworker from SAAFA mentioned the course to me but I was reluctant. Being out of work, your self-esteem can be low, but in the end I came with a positive attitude and really enjoyed it. I really liked learning the plastering – that’s when I was getting it on the wall, not me! I felt nervous coming on the first day but now I’m a lot more positive, and I’m starting a job next week! Building Heroes helped arrange it for me and I have a way to go forward now.”
Another recent graduate, Darren, from our Trowbridge Centre, is setting out on a new challenge providing his own domestic maintenance service.
He told us:
“The new skills I’ve learnt, the great course instructors and the time with other veterans has been priceless. The course has given me a massive uplift in confidence and motivation and I’ve smiled, laughed and felt valued for the last five weeks. I’m now going it alone as AFV Handyman Services and I can’t wait to get cracking.”
Courses are open to any military service leavers (within last 3 months), veterans and family members. Visit the website to register interest firstname.lastname@example.org or call for information 01798 874521 quoting the magazine name.
Working in close partnership with colleges, job centres, army representatives, construction companies and other military charities is fundamental to the success of the organisation. Building Heroes is currently forging links with a range of companies and their subcontractors to offer full time work and work experience for learners that have taken part in the Building Heroes programme. Sean McCullough, who undertook his Building Heroes training at Colchester Institute recently, has been offered work experience in Plymouth with Volker Fitzpatrick. It is hoped that this will result in Sean being offered full time employment when he has completed his Health & Safety qualifications.
Building Heroes recently employed Learning Operations Manager Karen Jefford to manage operations, helping the organisation to develop new links with training partners and increase outreach. She explains,
“If you’re an employer and interested in recruiting one of our learners, or your organisation is interested in sponsorship, or maybe part of your company’s corporate social value is to support the military, we’d love to hear from you. We’re always looking to grow our partner base.”
To keep partners up to date on its current plans, Building Heroes is holding its first Open Day on the 14 May at its Brinsbury Campus in West Sussex. Visitors will have the chance to network with other like-minded organisations and tour the construction training facilities to see the learners in action. If your organisation would like to work in partnership with Building Heroes, either as a referral agency, potential employer, or bespoke a training programme please contact the team on as we would love to invite you to join us on the 14th to find out more about us and meet some of the inspiring learners at the heart of the charity’s work.