BCB was incorporated in April 2001, its main objective was to maximise training and employment opportunities for unemployed people in Barnsley, who were interested in developing a career in the construction industry.
By March 2002, BCB had been established and had supported a number of trainees into employment with training in Bricklaying, Joinery and as Insulation installers. Community building projects in Grimethorpe over a three year period was also having a positive impact by improving the visual appearance of a number of estates in Grimethorpe.
By April 2002 it was difficult to see a clear direction for BCB, funding had all but come to an end and the skills that BCB relied on was subcontracted in. BCB’s office location was also a barrier to supporting the wider community and limited the options we had and expand the services that we could offer. It was a chance meeting with a representative from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) at a careers event at Priory Campus that changed BCB’s direction and fortunes.
From a small office in the Acorn Centre in Grimethorpe, BCB developed and delivered the Skillsbuilder program, solely funded through CRT. The Skillsbuilder programme was originally set up to help 20 redundant miners at the Prince of Wales Colliery in Wakefield, funding was made available to help with retraining and to help secure employment in the construction industry. The pilot was deemed a success; the programme was extended to cover Nottingham, Selby and Ellington in the north east. At the end of the project the Skillsbuilder programme had retrained and found employment for 633 redundant workers, given careers advice to over 2500 unemployed people, referred a good number into part time employment and gave advice and support to people that wanted to become self employed.
Whilst delivering the Skillsbuilder programme there was a number of barriers that prevented a quick move into new employment. By far the worse was not being able to secure a training opportunity as and when needed and that covered the wide variety of occupations, many with specialist skills. This problem was mirrored when supporting other employment programmes that were training linked.
CRT recognised the problems and committed funding to support BCB’s proposal to relocate to a new facility nearer to Barnsley’s town centre, where we could help with training shortages and to be more accessible to a greater number of people. On May 6th 2006 the new centre was opened and named the ”Skillsbuilder Centre”. The centre is now well established and its location is ideal to support the ever changing programmes and initiatives that BCB support.
CRT has without doubt been the biggest single positive impact to where BCB is today. CRT’s ongoing funding and support has opened up opportunities that have been life changing for some of our most vulnerable community sectors.
BCB have built on the investment made by CRT and has now developed into a fully self sustaining social enterprise, supporting an ever-increasing number of projects.