Mace’s LSE project team’s innovative approach to helping homeless men back into work

Mace is constructing LSE’s new Centre Buildings Redevelopment (CBR) – interconnected 13-storey and six-storey towers, along with lecture theatres, study areas, academic staff offices, a café/learning area and a series of landscaped roof terraces.

The new buildings will rely on natural ventilation and cooling through an external façade, solar shading and the use of exposed pre-cast soffits.

Eco-friendly towers will encompass bi-fuel CHP, photovoltaics, rainwater harvesting and a useable rooftop green space.

Planned to achieve an ‘Excellent’ BREEAM rating, the development was designed by architects, Roger Stirk Harbour and Partners and includes a new central plaza.

The development required the demolition of four buildings, a process which began in June 2015. Construction began in July 2017 and completion is scheduled for the first quarter of 2019.

“The guys can’t believe their luck and, as the project team have shown, a little bit of time and consideration goes a long way.”

– Darren Pope, Mace Site Manager

Mace’s LSE project team showed exceptional community consideration when they transformed the lives of two homeless men living rough outside their site in Westminster, London.

When the Mace PREACH (Public estates, Research, Education, Arts and Culture and Healthcare) project team started on site, the first thing they noticed were the same two homeless men sleeping by the site’s pedestrian entrance each night in St Clement’s Lane.

A concerned member of the site team invited them into the site office to have a cup of coffee and it transpired that they were skilled, educated men who hadn’t found opportunities quick enough upon arriving in the UK, resulting in homelessness.

Successfully employed

Immediately the project team wanted to help and arranged for temporary accommodation for them in a local hostel. This was arranged through the charity CRISIS. Advised by CRISIS, Mace mentored and coached the individuals towards achieving their goal of finding work, and ultimately return their independence.

Mace assisted with travel, revision material and advice resulting in the individuals successfully obtaining their CSCS cards. Seeing the determination from both men, Mace discussed potential opportunities with their supply chain in advance. This resulted in both men finding jobs and both are now employed on Mace construction sites.

Describing how the site became aware of the men’s plight, Project Director Frank Connolly said:

“Every night two gentlemen would turn up and make their beds up for the night in the Waterstones bookshop entrance, adjacent to the Mace site entrance. Each morning when the project team arrived for work, the two gentlemen were still there, but within an hour they had disappeared, leaving their sleeping pitch clean and tidy.

“The Waterstones staff kept an eye on them but did not want to move them on. After a few attempts Luke Boxall persuaded the two men to have a cup of coffee in the site office and their stories unfolded.”

Skilled and educated

Outlining the men’s circumstances, Frank said: “What transpired was the all too familiar story of people wanting to create better lives for themselves in the UK.

“These guys were skilled, educated men who didn’t manage to get the opportunities quickly enough when they came to the UK and found themselves homeless. The project team arranged accommodation for them on a temporary basis for three weeks in a local hostel.

“Because of our close links with Crisis Skylight and with their help, the two individuals successfully passed a CSCS test so they could access work more easily.”

Just a week later, the two men were interviewed for jobs within the construction industry and are now both working on Mace sites. With help from Crisis, the national charity for homeless people, the two men are renting temporary accommodation until they find permanent homes.

A delighted Estates Director of the LSE, Julian Robinson said:

“Now that’s what I call a considerate constructor! What an intriguing story. Company ethos is important to us and by this care and concern, and most importantly action, Mace has demonstrated why they are the right sort of contractor for the LSE – bravo!”

Manager of Waterstones bookshop in Portugal Street, Sue Tarratt said:

“I have been impressed by the compassionate way in which you and your colleagues at Mace have dealt with the two homeless men sleeping in our doorway. You are also making every effort to keep disruption down to a minimum which is much appreciated.”

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