Groundbreaking Local Partnership Will Create The ‘Future Builders’ of Bristol
A groundbreaking new live-in apprenticeship scheme for Bristol is the complete package; giving homeless young people the opportunity to refurbish a property that will then be their home. The pilot scheme will help move young people who have experienced homelessness to complete independence as they literally build their own future.
The ‘Future Builders’ scheme, inspired and funded by OVO Foundation, will be facilitated by three other key partners: Bristol City Council, 1625 Independent People (1625ip) a Bristol-based youth homelessness charity and South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS) and their construction department based at their Filton Campus. The purpose of the partnership is to provide young people who have experienced homelessness with access to a construction apprenticeship which, when combined with decent, affordable housing (leased at peppercorn rent by Bristol City Council) and support from experienced staff at 1625ip, will provide them with the necessary skills to access permanent employment and go on to live independently. Future Builders begins with a free 3-month pre-apprenticeship programme at SGS College in Filton, which starts on Monday 10th October.
OVO Foundation is the charitable arm of Bristol-based energy supplier, OVO Energy, which now employs over 1,000 local people at their office in Temple Quay.
Stephen Fitzpatrick CEO & Founder of OVO Energy explains: “We created OVO Foundation to find simple solutions to complex social problems -- including those right on our doorstep. Last year, we commissioned some research into youth homelessness as we wanted to better understand the subject matter before developing a project that we’re hoping to be a long-term solution to the issue. OVO Foundation is funding Future Builders which is the first of many local projects that we’ll support to tackle youth poverty and prevent repeat homelessness.”
For Bristol City Council, Future Builders is a solutions-based way of delivering on the pledges made in the mayor’s election manifesto, including tackling homelessness, bringing empty homes and buildings in Bristol into use and supporting apprenticeships for every young person.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol said: “Homelessness is undeniably a very real problem in Bristol. When looking for a solution it’s important that we are able to work together with other organisations around the city to create a result that is sustainable.
“That’s why projects like this are so crucial. Not only does it offer these young people a safe home to live in, but it also offers potential career opportunities which they could use to build a better future for themselves.
“I’d like to thank the OVO Foundation and South Gloucestershire and Stroud College for supporting this project and 1625ip for the work they continue to support vulnerable people around the city. I’d also like to wish all these young people the best of luck on this project and with their future.”
The property that Bristol City Council is lending to Future Builders has been offered at peppercorn rent to ensure that the apprentices’ wage covers their rent, leaving them with money to live without recourse to benefits.
The construction apprenticeship offered by SGS College is a fitting choice as it gives the first Future Builders the opportunity to contribute to the legacy of the project by refurbishing the property that they will go on to live in. The apprentices will initially be involved in classroom-based work whilst they learn the basics of construction. They will then apply their newly-learned skills to renovate the property that they will be living in. The course aims to ensure each person is equipped for the move to a full-time apprenticeship with a construction company.
Sara-Jane Watkins, SGS College Principal adds “we have worked with 1625ip for many years trying to provide opportunities for young people to break the cycle of homelessness. We have discussed reusing the city’s housing stock on numerous occasions and we are thrilled that OVO Foundation has enabled this to happen. We are hoping that the pilot ‘Future Builders’ programme becomes a long-term sustainable project enabling hundreds of young people to gain valuable construction skills, employment, security and ultimately their independence and sense of worth”.
For the duration of the project,1625ip will offer their years of expertise to supporting each apprentice with dedicated and full support whenever is needed at home and at college.
Dom Wood CEO at 1625ip expresses his delight: “We have worked with OVO Foundation for many years, the passion they have makes this work possible, we’re delighted to be leading this progressive project with them. OVO is inspirational in the way they work with communities to harness their strengths and help young people realise their potential.”