Construction students helping to build communities

JOINERY students from Hugh Baird College joined their tutors and invited guests last week at a key handover event for the houses they are helping to build while on their course.

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The housing development, off Kingsley Road in the Granby-Toxteth area of Liverpool, is the project of multi award winning Liverpool housing charity, Housing People, Building Communities (HPBC). Their special approach combines self-build, volunteering and corporate philanthropy in a unique way.

HPBC’s home partners help to build the homes they will ultimately live in, working alongside volunteers from all over the world. Hugh Baird College Construction students are amongst the volunteers and Scott Billington, Taylor Marshall and John Jones were representing them at the event celebrating the completion of the latest three houses.

Taylor said:

“It’s great to be able to see the finished houses and to know that I am helping to build the next phase of them. On the joinery course at Hugh Baird College we are in really well equipped workshops and we are learning all the technical and theory side of things. But our tutors also take us out on site too so we get to work on a real building site here at Kingsley Road every week. We’re finding out exactly what to expect when we start work. Also, there’s a real sense of achievement knowing that we’re working alongside the people who will eventually live in the houses and that we are doing our bit to help the community. It’s good experience and in the future every time I drive past the houses, I can say I helped build them.”

The partnership between HPBC and Hugh Baird College sees groups of joinery students visiting the Kingsley Road site twice a week. They are allocated tasks by the site manager and volunteer co-ordinator which can vary depending on the stage of the build. This has meant Hugh Baird College students have done everything from fitting exterior cladding and constructing and fitting staircases to laying floors and erecting fencing.

Joinery lecturer at Hugh Baird College, Bill Wormald said:

“We originally got involved in the project last year, bringing two groups of carpentry and joinery students to work on site every week. It’s been a fantastic opportunity for our students to see what it is really like working on a building site. They begin with a health and safety induction and are then put to work on whichever tasks need doing so they’ve been able to work on the houses at each stage of the build. The volunteer co-ordinator and the site manager run a tight ship so the students gain first-hand experience of the exacting standards of work expected in the trades they’re hoping to enter. The experience they get here definitely enhances their employability and their CVs. It gives them so much to talk to employers about when they are interviewed for jobs.”

The new homes at the Kingsley Road site are being built on land donated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese and in partnership with national care and housing provider Sanctuary Group who are providing almost £2million to help develop the remaining 23 houses. The development is scheduled for completion in autumn 2015 and HPBC are already searching for their next site.

Liza Parry, Chief Executive of HPBC said:

“It has been great to have the Hugh Baird College students involved in this build. They’ve been a credit to the College and their tutors and we hope the partnership between the College and HPBC will continue when we begin our next project. Aside from building much needed new homes and creating new communities, our ultimate aim at HPBC is to improve quality of life by unlocking human potential and empowering people to work and succeed together. By working with us, I hope that the students have not just gained practical skills but have enriched their life skills and seen the value of community involvement.”

As a part of the celebrations for the key handover, the Hugh Baird College students even had a few minutes in the spotlight when they were amongst the guests filmed for BBC North West Tonight:

If you would like to find out how you could lay the foundations for your career in construction, why not visit the Construction and Engineering course pages on the Hugh Baird College website or call the Student Advice team on 0151 353 4444.

To see photos of the students working at Kingsley Road, click here.

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