Ken Livingstone Launches the Hackney Building Lives Academy in the company of Tommy Walsh and local Councillors

Wed 17 April saw the official launch of the Hackney Building Lives Training Academy - a true collaboration of partners: Hackney Homes, Harrow College, Manor House Development Trust, Lakehouse, Mulalley and Mansell plus many other construction companies and subcontractors. This partnership has transformed a disused, unloved community centre that was falling apart, into a multi-skilled construction training academy within the heart of the Summit Estate, Stamford Hill.

It has already helped build the lives of 50 previously unemployed local people aged 16-65, by providing 12 weeks pre-apprentice training and supporting them into paid apprenticeships within the construction industry. And it will continue to offer 50 paid apprenticeships every year. Building Lives is a registered Social Enterprise and Community Interest Company that brings partners together to get local people from deprived communities into sustainable construction apprenticeships.

Before officially launching the Academy, Ken Livingstone left his hand print in plaster, along with representatives from all the organisations involved – cementing the partnership.

Ken said "One of the mistakes of the last forty years under all governments is that schooling has focussed solely on getting kids into University, but barely half of all kids will actually make it there. Education has a duty to provide a range of skills and opportunities that lead to jobs.

"I’m delighted that an entrepreneur like Steve Rawlings has stepped in with the Building Lives model to do just that. And very I’m proud to be here launching this new Hackney Academy."

Stories from apprentices showcased how Building Lives has helped turn their lives around. Teswane, 18, who was also featured in London Tonight ,said: "Before this I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and I was unemployed for almost a year. Building Lives is kind of a life saver."

Zoe, 23 said: "Building Lives does exactly what it says it does. Now I get to see my daughter a lot more and my time keeping has really improved."

Tommy Walsh commented that starting as a builder who grew up and still lives in Hackney, he’s really pleased to see an academy like this open, giving ordinary local people the opportunity to get into construction.

Steve Rawlings, CEO and founder of Building Lives and Lakehouse grew up in the East End and started as an apprentice 40 years ago. He commented: "I’m so thankful to all the partners involved. Together we really are building lives. This model works and I’m going to take it to every London borough."