Patrons’ Event 14th March 2018
Held at the River Room, House of Lords
Guests arriving in the River Room
Stephen Ratcliffe, Chair of Youthbuild UK welcomed our 60 guests to the Patrons’ Event and thanked our President, Rt Hon Baroness Smith of Basildon for arranging and sponsoring the event. He explained that unfortunately Baroness Smith could not attend as she was involved in a debate in the House of Lords this evening, however he was delighted that Lord Kennedy of Southwark was standing in for her.
Lord Kennedy of Southwark said that he was honoured to stand in for Baroness Smith and that he totally agreed with the need to give opportunities to disadvantaged young people, to help them turn their lives around. He told how he had recently spent two days shadowing the police, in a patrol car, and thought that quite a few of the young people he saw would benefit from the “Youthbuild” experience, if only someone would give them the opportunity. He said that when you go around London and see the vast amount of construction work going on, he understood why there was a “skills gap” in the industry and thought that part of the solution would be to give more opportunities to disadvantaged young people, to both reduce the skills gap and help them to transform their lives.
Nicola Sinclair of B&CE Charitable Trust, one of our sponsors and a member of the Judging Panel for the Young Builder of the Year Awards, told why B&CE had become involved because they wanted to support organisations that helped young people have careers in construction and how she had been amazed at what some of the Finalists at the Young Builder of the Year Awards had had to overcome to get into construction. That had inspired her to become a Judge where she heard about a lot more young people’s struggles and successes. She concluded by saying that becoming a Judge had been a truly humbling experience.
Jane Cosh of Essex Youthbuild – explained how they had evolved from working with only young offenders to a mix of disadvantaged 14 to 19 year olds referred to them by a variety of agencies. She explained their flexible approach – no formal entry requirements, late starts (9.45am), breakfast provided, attendance bonuses, roll on/roll off starts, which enabled them to engage and develop their students. How EYB’s programmes are workshop based with minimal classroom time with a 5:1 student to instructor ratio. She also told us about their “Trade School” a free after school activity that gives young people a vocational experience. The key issue she raised was the lack of progression for the young people who had achieved a solid foundation in construction but were unable to progress into apprenticeships. She was delighted to report that one of their former students Kyron Dalton was the winner of the Young Builder of the Year Awards 14 to 18 year old category in 2017.
Arben Ndreca, the 2017 Young Builder of the Year told his story, for the first time in public, about how he had to leave his native Albania, arriving in London as a 16 year not speaking any English. He explained how he couldn’t have coped without the help of his Barnardo’s foster parents, how he had gone to college to learn English and embarked on an electrical course, before gaining an apprenticeship. Thanks to the support of his employer he was now a qualified electrician. Who would have thought that the frightened, homeless 16 year old refugee would within 5 years become the Young Builder of the Year and give a speech at the House of Lords! Arben showed why he is an inspiration to us all.
Stephen Ratcliffe thanked all our guests for attending and the speakers for their informative, entertaining and inspirational speeches.
A fantastic view of the London Eye from the River Room