Willmott Dixon Interiors have been working in partnership with Thames Reach and Age UK where improving equality, diversity and inclusion in the construction industry and in the local community has been a major focus.
Equality, diversity and inclusion are some of the challenges currently faced by the construction industry. In terms of gender, recent statistics show that women make up only 11% of the construction workforce and just 1% of the workers on site. To help improve this, Willmott Dixon Interiors (WDI) have been working in partnership with Thames Reach, who provide the ‘Moving in Moving on’ training programme for disadvantaged and homeless women seeking employment in painting and decorating.
As part of WDI’s enhancing lives community investment project, WDI took on the challenge to boost the skillset and confidence of those who recently graduated from the programme. This involved construction skills based training over the course of a week in June such as; trade awareness in tiling and carpentry, fire marshal training, environmental awareness, personality mapping, emergency first aid at work, face fit testing, CSCS mock tests, asbestos awareness training and a site visit of a live commercial fit-out project in London.
Project Lead, Connor Lambourne, said ‘‘The information provided during the week is crucial for beginning a career in construction and will provide the graduates with skills to enhance their employment opportunities within the industry’’.
The first week ended with a seminar and open discussion on ‘Women in Construction’ where professional females working in the industry delivered talks on their life experiences and career journeys. This raised awareness of roles available for women within the construction industry, whilst building confidence in gender diversity and equal opportunities. One of the graduates described the week as ‘inspiring and encouraging for women who want to get into construction’.
We also had Scape’s Managing Director, Victoria Brambini support this initiative:
‘‘It’s great to see one of our long-standing framework partners continue to invest in communities and people through the projects they are so passionate about, whilst driving forward equality and diversity in the construction industry. Changing women’s perceptions of working in the built environment can encourage them to make new and exciting career choices and contribute to addressing the skills shortage’’.
The graduates were provided with further work experience on site, refurbishing Age UK’s Healthy Living Centre where rainbow laces were worn throughout the event, in support of PRIDE.
The main use for the building is to provide a social hub for over 50s to encourage a sense of wellbeing and inclusion within the community. Facts suggest that 31% of older people have experienced loneliness and 17% of older people were found socially isolated.
WDI came together with supply chain partners, volunteers from the local community, Age UK and Thames Reach to help put something back into the community.
The previous conditions of the building were restrictive where the users of the centre were unable to operate efficiently. The refurbishment helped to tackle these challenges as well as provide the users with a facility far better equipped for the demands they face on a daily basis.
Following on from the successful completion of this project, the female graduates have secured apprenticeship opportunities with our supply chain partners which are currently in the process of being finalised.
Above: Cllr Charlie Smith – Mayor of Southwark with Connor Lambourne
The legacy from this work will live on for a very long time with the relationships that have been developed through the work and most importantly with the range and scope of activity we can provide in the community for older people of all ages and abilities – Susan Underhill, Deputy Chief Executive, Age UK Lewisham & Southwark
This is just one example of how WDI are empowering people from diverse backgrounds to get into construction by raising awareness and investing in local communities.
A special thank you to all the dignitaries who attended the opening of the newly refurbished Age UK’s Healthy Living Centre:
- Matthew Ryder QC – Dep. Mayor of London for Social Integration, Social Mobility, Community Engagement and Leading human rights lawyer for the Queens Counsel
- Cllr Charlie Smith – Mayor of Southwark
- Cllr Damien O’Brian – Liberal Democrats & Southwark Council
- Neil Coyle MP – Labour MP and former committee member for the Dept. of work and pensions (2016 – 2017)
- Sir Simon Henry Ward Hughes – Former Dep. Leader of the Liberal Democrats (2010- 2014)
- Sonny McCann – Regional Business manager – Scape
- Jackie Bourke-White – CEO Age UK Southwark & Lewisham
- Susan Underhill – Dep. CEO Age UK Southwark & Lewisham
- Andrew Waite – Age UK Patron and author
- Dee Russell – Pearly Queen of Chelsea