Building a better future requires more than just bricks and mortar

Written by Martin Armstrong on 29 March 2017 in Comment

Associate feature: Martin Armstrong, Chief Executive of Wheatley Group, on how social housing can provide opportunities to young people

Wheatley’s ambitious programme of building thousands of affordable homes across Scotland goes hand in hand with our mission to create jobs and training opportunities for people living in our communities.

Just as everyone deserves to have a decent home, isn’t it right and fair that those living in disadvantaged areas have the opportunity to secure a job, follow a career and earn a decent living? Organisations like Wheatley, who are involved in house building, maintenance and management, are well placed to generate such opportunities.

Over the past decade or so, our Registered Social Landlords – Glasgow Housing Association, Cube, Loretto, West Lothian Housing Partnership, Dunedin Canmore and Barony – have created 11,000 jobs and 2000 training places.

Since 2009, we have recruited 238 Modern Apprentices. More than two-thirds of those who complete the training programme have gone into work or full-time education. Our Wheatley Pledge scheme, stipulating our contractors and suppliers create employment and training opportunities within our communities, is also playing its part, and is already more than half way towards meeting its target of creating 500 by 2020. Last year, we created new Environmental Apprenticeships and took on dozens of young people who enjoy manual work and the outdoors.

The vast majority of these employment and training opportunities have been taken up by people living in our homes. For many, it is a lifeline out of poverty and a springboard to a better life. One lad, who joined our team at Dunedin Canmore in Edinburgh, was homeless at 16. He now has his own tenancy, is six months into his housing apprenticeship and has set his sights on becoming a housing officer.

Stories like this illustrate and underline why in Scotland today the role, purpose and responsibility of the Wheatleys of this world go way beyond simple bricks and mortar. 

Martin Armstrong is Chief Executive of Wheatley Group

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