HS2 London contractors have launched a major social legacy programme called Empowering Communities, intended to benefit communities along the final part of the HS2 route into London.
Andrew Stephenson MP, the HS2 Minister, announced that Empowering Communities is the first programme of its kind to be led by the construction industry, working in partnership with HS2, to deliver long-lasting benefits for local people for generations to come. It brings together the strengths of major construction companies Costain, Skanska, STRABAG, Mace, Dragados and Arup.
The programme aims to create jobs for those experiencing worklessness and homelessness, help young people to develop new STEM skills and access apprenticeships, and support community projects.
Working together with local communities, the partner organisations will enable local people to have a say in what the programme delivers for their communities.
Empowering Communities is already reaping rewards and has provided Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) education support to over 11,000 young people across seven London boroughs.
The programme has also created jobs for more than 200 previously unemployed people and supported nine homeless people into work on the HS2 project.
The partner organisations are working with local charities and community groups such as Buses for Homeless (B4H), a social enterprise which aims to get homeless people off the street and into full time sustainable employment and accommodation. B4H refurbishes decommissioned London buses into spaces suitable for their guests to live and takes them through an intensive 12-week training programme. The site set up includes separate buses for sleeping, cooking and eating, learning, and wellness and therapy.
Other commitments under the initiative include supporting young people, particularly those leaving care. The partner organisations are working with the Care Leavers Covenant, an organisation designed to support care leavers, ages 16 to 25 to live independently. We will be offering opportunities to this cohort of young people to gain an insight into construction through mentoring, work placements, apprenticeships and job opportunities, and will be working alongside Local Authorities to ensure those opportunities are given to those care leavers who are within the communities HS2 work is taking place in.
HS2 Minister, Andrew Stephenson MP said: “This fantastic initiative highlights how being a good neighbour doesn’t just mean minimising the impact an infrastructure project has on local communities, it’s about maximising the benefits to the surrounding areas.
“The Empowering Communities programme will help unleash the enormous potential of communities on the HS2 route – addressing social issues such as homelessness and unemployment and creating a legacy of jobs, skills and community initiatives for the people and places along the line.”