Plug pulled on life-changing scheme for ex-convicts, homeless and long-term unemployed

Protesters outside as their apprenticeship scheme has been axed.

Protesters outside as their apprenticeship scheme has been axed. - Credit: Archant

The plug had been pulled on an award-winning apprenticeship scheme which gives hope for the future to job-seekers, ex-convicts and the homeless looking to turn their lives around.

Former Major of London Ken Livingston leaves his handd prints for prosperity at the opening of the

Former Major of London Ken Livingston leaves his handd prints for prosperity at the opening of the Building Lives Training Academy in Summit Estate. - Credit: Archant

The Building Lives Training Academy in Portland Avenue, Stamford Hill, was opened to great fanfare by former London Mayor Ken Livingstone and celebrity builder Tommy Walsh in April 2013.

The centre in is one of 10 in London run by the charity, helping 86 per cent of men and women aged up to 65 who participate to go on to full time employment.

But last Friday trainee builders on the scheme - which teaches carpentry, plumbing, plastering and brick laying - were left devastated when they were told it did not meet Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) funding criteria, and it was going to be axed.

With just months to go before the first set of apprenticeships achieved their construction multi-skills diploma , the 300 London apprentices feared their hard work had gone to waste.

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Michel Reilly, 18, from the Millfields Estate in Clapton said: “I’m very emotional about it, without this place I’m lost, I don’t know what to do with life.

“I felt as thought I was a really good place that was getting me somewhere in life, but now I’m getting depressed about it, some of us were crying, before this I was unemployed and not doing anything, it’s given me a lot of hope in life.”

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Beverly Carrington, 48, Hoxton, Pitfield Street, Hoxton, added: “I’m still in shock, to do this for 14 months and then shafted, I’ve was on long term unemployment, this was another chance, and now it’s gone down the toilet - I’m angry.”

And Dritan Dalti, from Morning Lane, added: “We weren’t expecting it, we are devastated, it will just mean starting again from zero, now I will have to go back to singing on and looking for another job.”

All apprentices have now been reassured by the CITB it will enable them to finish off their diploma.

But Building Lives could now close unless they find a new funder.

“With a workforce of 40, more than 300 learners at risk and partnerships with more than 20 social landlords, local authorities and colleges under jeopardy, there will be a lot of lives destroyed if new funding is not secured,” said a spokesman.

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