Rail Industry Focus

29.10.19

How HS2 is helping the homeless

Source: RTM Oct/Nov 2019

 

A compassionate collaboration between a rail company and local charities is getting people into employment and tackling homelessness in and around London. Louise Dailly, head of legacy for the Costain Skanska joint venture (CSjv) tells us how.

CSjv is working on the High Speed Two (HS2) Enabling Works programme in London, covering two of the boroughs with the highest homeless figures, Camden and Westminster.

Bringing together their supply chain and charity partners in the area, CSjv continue to be committed to supporting people experiencing homelessness into sustainable jobs and careers on HS2. Partnering with Centre Point and the local homeless charity in Camden, C4WS, CSjv continues to support the training of individuals and offers placements and job opportunities on the programme.

“It is crucial for our industry, and for society as a whole, that we encourage and assist people from diverse backgrounds to work with us. We believe our work improves people’s lives by providing and improving vital infrastructure. However, we must not forget the wider contribution that is required to improve the lives of those that are finding difficulty, for whatever reason, to find them employment that challenges them and allows them to grow”

CSjv and its supply chain have been working closely with local homeless charities to offer roles to those people who are ready to enter into full-time employment. Since January 2019, the programme has helped five people into full time employment, including Nahom, who is currently working for Danny Sullivan, a tier 2 contractor on the HS2 Enabling Works.

Originally from Eritrea, Nahom found his life completely changed when he came to the UK. When he struggled to find work and subsequently was unable to find a place to stay, Nahom got in touch with C4WS to seek help. C4WS provided him with advice and skills, and put him in contact with Danny Sullivan who was able to offer him a role as general operative.

“My life was stressful. I had no work and I was under job centre plus. Now HS2 has changed my life by providing me with work. I am now saving for my first holiday” said Nahom.

Employment is a big factor when it comes to supporting homeless people to get back on their feet, but CSjv recognises that it is just one part of their journey into a better life. Together with St Mungo’s, CSjv provided accommodation for 26 people in the first ever floating homeless hub on a construction site. Situated on one of our Camden sites, CSjv transformed an empty building into a homeless shelter and welfare facility for those in need.

The shelter ran over a three-week period, giving the charity time to get to know those who were using the service, and helping to find them permanent accommodation and any other support they may need. During that time, St Mungo’s identified a missing person and was able to reunite her with her family. This shows how important taking the time to dedicate to people is, and using all resources available to do what we can.

Saskia Prichard, floating hub manager for St Mungo’s, praised the effectiveness of this collaborative and joined-up strategy. “This experience has definitely had an impact on my view of how infrastructure projects could support the community. The building provided to us by CSjv required us all to work together to create the homeless hub, and through joint partnership we showed how organisations from different sectors can work together to achieve great outcomes. It’s refreshing to see organisations thinking creatively in ways that help the local communities they work in, which doesn’t just involve donating money but looking at resources they have available and working with other organisations to deliver positive outcomes.”

This is just the beginning of what CSjv have planned in order to help tackle homelessness in and around London. With the HS2 project only just beginning, the opportunity to work and leave a lasting legacy is huge.

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