Wates Construction launches pilot scheme to tackle homelessness

Engage Leeds, a support service which helps prevent people from becoming homeless, has announced that it’s helped in excess of 3,000 people across the city since setting up just over 12 months ago – but the issue of homelessness continues to worsen, with a recent report showing that rough sleeping stats have risen for the second year in a row in Leeds.

To help tackle this, Wates Construction is utilising its position as the lead contractor on 7&8 Wellington Place to launch a pilot scheme which aims to provide vital employment to individuals with no permanent abode, or those deemed at risk of losing their home. The scheme, supported by the site’sdeveloper, MEPC, will offer full time, site-based paid work to those in need.

Working with local housing support service, Engage Leeds, Wates and MEPC recently welcomed its second new team member to the 7&8 Wellington Place site as part of the ground-breaking pilot. The contractor and Engage Leeds will now continue to work together to make further appointments as the project progresses.

The site team is also undertaking a range of other activities to tackle homelessness in the city, including volunteering at St. George’s Crypt homeless shelter as part of Wates’ annual Reshaping Tomorrow Week. This summer, construction workers implemented a ‘pay it forward’ programme in the Crypt canteen, with money donated to buy food vouchers. These were then distributed to homeless people across Leeds, enabling them to enjoy a three-course meal.

Paul Dodsworth, Business Unit Director, Wates Construction, North East and North West, said: “There has been a noticeable rise in homelessness across the UK in recent years, especially in major cities such as Leeds. As a company with a large local presence, we are determined to use our work on projects such as 7&8 Wellington Place as a force for good, and to do what we can to prevent the further rise of homelessness.

“We are all thrilled with the success of the pilot so far. While it’s rewarding to be supporting such an important cause, this initiative is by no means a selfless act of altruism. Our newest colleagues are here on merit, and we have gained reliable and valuable employees performing a vital service who have quickly become a key part of our team. A lot of people currently struggling to find work just need to be given a chance to show their potential and we look forward to working with Engage Leeds to find further new additions to our team, as well as undertaking a range of other initiatives with organisations such as St George’s Crypt to help fight the rise of rough sleeping.”

James Dipple, CEO of MEPC, added: “We’re proud to play our part in supporting this incredibly important scheme at our Wellington Place development. We’re very much committed to making a positive impact through the work that we do and are always looking for new ways to support local communities in and around the sites we develop.

“When Wates and Engage Leeds approached us with this opportunity we knew that this is something we had to do, as just one homeless person on the streets is one too many. Although it’s a small start by us here at Wellington Place, we hope to grow the scheme at the development and set an example to other businesses across the city and beyond.”

Brent Riley, Employment and Engagement Worker, Engage Leeds, commented: “Our partnership work with Wates Construction and MEPC is something we at Engage Leeds are immensely proud of. Employment gives a real platform for our work-ready clients to turn their lives around. It makes obtaining and then sustaining accommodation achievable. Employment brings a sense of purpose to our clients’ lives, self-esteem and confidence grows, we see smiles on faces! Wates is pro-active in its belief in social inclusion and lives are literally changing through their actions as a socially responsible employer.”

When complete, the 378,000 sq ft. of Grade A office space at 7&8 Wellington Place will house HMRC’s new regional hub for Yorkshire. Scheduled for completion in 2020, the 6,000 civil servants that will occupy the new government hub will be welcomed to Wellington Place’s thriving business community, one of the largest and most prestigious new city centre business quarters in Europe. The contract adds to Wates’ portfolio at the commercial development, which includes the completion of buildings 3, 5, 6 and 10 Wellington Place.