One reason Breyer Group was appointed was because of its reputation for corporate social responsibility and its activities based on building communities in the areas it operates in. Breyer’s community charter promises to improve the social fabric of communities through education, employment, fundraising and social community events.
Lewisham Homes and Breyer share a commitment to local communities and are both very keen to tackle social issues. This shared understanding has made the partnership very successful. During the first two years of the four-year contract Breyer conducted a series of activities in partnership with Lewisham Homes and the local businesses and organisations. Some of these activities were recognised and shortlisted by the National Federation of ALMOs (Arms Length Management Organisation) awards. Breyer and Lewisham have positively impacted residents in a variety of ways.
Eight apprentices have been recruited from the Lewisham area. These apprentices have been employed to carry out work within their own community in Lewisham. However, looking beyond the contractual obligations with Lewisham Homes, Breyer’s 360° apprenticeship programme will give the apprentices the skills and vocational qualifications to find long-term employment.
Breyer also provided many young and long-term unemployed people with work experience (pre- employment) opportunities so they could gain valuable experience, develop new skills and increase the employment prospects with recent references. Overall, 440 days of work experience was given ranging from business administration & quantity surveying, to working alongside skilled tradesmen.
Using the facilities found within the community (Catford Library), Breyer held work clubs for Lewisham’s job seekers. Breyer was able to help local residents of the southern area of the borough to search for training and employment opportunities. The community development team, supported by HR specialists at Breyer were able to mentor residents through the process of finding work. This includes: CV writing, job searches and interview techniques. Breyer has also provided work experience placements and an apprenticeship to attendees. This shows progression & Breyer going beyond its remit to just deliver the work club.
In an effort to empower Lewisham residents with the skills to maintain their own properties, Breyer Group held a series of DIY workshops where residents had access to skilled professionals in a safe environment to try their hand at painting and decorating, plumbing and tiling. Breyer invited its partner Travis Perkins to provide participants with discount cards to be used in their local store. These events are very popular and give the residents of Lewisham the opportunity to learn new important life skills.
Breyer also invited to the Safer Neighbour Team to help raise awareness of security in the home and to be vigilant to help safe guard their community.
Energy saving measures were distributed to all residents during a specially designed workshop (before the colder winter months set in) so that older or more vulnerable people could voice any concerns they had about fuel poverty.
Breyer Group also played a big part of Lewisham’s flagship community engagement event this year (July), the Home Park family fun day. Sponsorship from Breyer went towards providing the event, which included a fun fair, food festival, face painting, story telling and live music and performances. Young people regularly attend these events, and go on to secure an apprenticeship at the Breyer Group and work on-site to receive valuable training.
Home Park Youth Adventure Playground had been a target of the London riots in August 2011. The Breyer Group together with Lewisham Council agreed that it should be renewed so that it could reinstate its important role engaging children in the area with alternatives to gang play and anti-social behavior.
The effort was lead by the Breyer Group and in collaboration with Lewisham Council and Masher Brothers, the main sub-contractor for the project. The team were tasked with improving the facilities at Home Park Youth Adventure Playground that provides young people within the local area with a place to go, meet friends, engage with other young people and participate in activities that will keep them off the street and out of trouble.
Three young volunteers from Lewisham took part in a structured refurbishment of a local community landmark that helps to keep children engaged and out of gangs.
Breyer’s contract with Lewisham meant that five days were to be put towards the project. Breyer went above and beyond that by contributing 12 days at no extra cost to Lewisham Council.
During the refurbishment, the team of volunteers gained exposure to a variety of skills including painting, tiling, fitting kitchen units and domestic plumbing, which may spur them to pursue a career in Construction via an apprenticeship. The clubhouse was painted inside and out and Breyer also provided new kitchen units.
Three further locations have been identified (Anton Bobb community hall, Ray Champion and Ingelmere) and will be rolled out over the next two-three years.
The Breyer Group supports Lewisham’s ambition to get young people into employment and such contributes financially (£5k in first and third year of the contract) for courses run by High5, it’s pre-employment and training initiative. The Breyer Group also aspires to support continued employment of young people and has been able to provide graduates of the High5 initiative with direct employment into development roles within the business.
Year on Year, Breyer and Lewisham have worked to improve local communities and the lives of its residents. Then the partnership looks to see how we can improve on the achievements of the previous year. The results have been hugely successful and rewarding for both organisations. Key targets agreed by both parties at the very beginning of the partnership have been smashed, which has been hugely rewarding for Breyer and especially appealing for Lewisham Homes and its residents.