Fortem dedicate over 1600 hours to help renovate Charles House

Image of garden Published: 10th Sep 2018

Fortem management trainees have completed a major renovation project at one of the Trust’s respite homes - Charles House in West Heath.

Over the past two months Fortem’s Management Trainees have been providing renovation work to Charles House in order to create a safer, more enjoyable environment for the children there.

The project was delivered in joint partnership with Birmingham Children’s Trust, who deliver services from West Heath based Charles House. Situated in South West Birmingham Charles House provides respite care services for children with disabilities.

The project was part of an annual initiative run by Fortem to help make a difference in the local communities they work in. Fortem’s Trainee Challenge sees management trainees from across the business split into three regional teams - North, Midlands and South. All are set the task of undertaking a community challenge project which improves the lives of local people and communities. The Midlands trainees team decided to focus on Charles House, a young people’s home that provides a service for children throughout Birmingham who have a statement of special needs.

In 2017, proposals to relocate staff and facilities meant Charles House was facing the possibility of closure, but the home was saved and now operates under Birmingham Children’s Trust. Following extensive consultation with parents and carers, children and staff, Charles House remained open, as many families lived nearby and wanted to continue to benefit from a personalised local service.

The works completed by Fortem included renovating the garden space and creating an independent living facility to replace a room solely used for storage. The project saw 68 volunteers take part, with 1,671 total hours donated by everyone involved. This included 239 hours donated by apprentices who were mainly responsible for installing the decking area.

Jake Hughes, the Fortem project lead for the trainees said,

“The number of challenges we have faced does not compare to the impact this project is going to have on not just the children at Charles House, but staff too. I couldn’t think of a better project to lead on!”

Julie Clark, Home Manager at Charles House explained:

“The garden had been completely off limits for the past two years because it was too dangerous for the children to enjoy, and the activity room was merely used for storage. We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received by Fortem who have been sensitive to the fact we continued to deliver our services during the build project. 

“Thanks to Fortem we are now able to offer equality of opportunity for children with Autism and sensory overload to experience the same life-skills opportunities as those without any disabilities. Our children can now learn to budget and prepare meals and gain vital independent living skills in a safe and calm space both indoors and outdoors.”

The works included new fencing around the perimeter and a new gate, the fitting of new paving slabs, installation of a decking area which incorporates a ramp for any wheelchair access needs and renewed raised flower beds with brightly coloured sleepers. The decking will also have artificial grass laid over the top at the request of the children.

An independent living facility was also created to replace a storage room where a lounge area and a kitchen were fitted with interactive QR codes to help the children learn how to live independently.

Mick Williamson, Managing Director of Fortem said,

“Leaving a legacy in the local communities we work in and working in collaboration with our partners is important to everyone at Fortem. The Trainee Challenge is set up for that exact reason and the Midlands Trainees have done a fantastic job of achieving this aim”.

Andy Couldrick, Chief Executive of Birmingham Children’s Trust said;

“This is a shining example of the positive impact that can be made when there is true partnership working taking place. The Trust has been in existence for under six months, and we are committed to listening to our families and our staff and making a real difference to the quality of life for our children. Partnerships like this one with Fortem enable us to make that difference.”

Throughout the project Fortem have worked with a number of suppliers, subcontractors and organisations already known to the business. These included Travis Perkins, who donated the majority of materials required, Mercian for skips and waste removal as well as Paint360, Midwest Electrical, ESM, Premier Contractors, Euroshowers, VPS, DJT, Shellforce and E Plan for the remainder of materials and work delivered.

In summary, a total of 11 Fortem partners have been generous enough to donate time, skills and materials towards the Charles House Trainee Challenge to the value of £8,285.54, all in addition to the staff hours donated.

The official launch of Charles House takes place on Thursday 13th September and will be attended by representatives from Fortem and Birmingham Children’s Trust.

Fortem trainees are also trying to raise funds to purchase some white goods so the children who use the facility can experience independent living and perform basic day to day chores.

If you would like to make a donation please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/charles-house-trainee-challenge.

You can follow the Trust on Twitter and you can follow Fortem on Twitter