GRAHAM launches SEND employer engagement pilot ‘Beacon’ programme in the Midlands

GRAHAM launches SEND employer engagement pilot ‘Beacon’ programme in the Midlands image
GRAHAM visiting the The Westminster School's new Employability Hub to provide donation

GRAHAM is delighted to partner with The Westminster School in Rowley Regis to support their students, who have special educational needs, with placements to help prepare them for the world of work.

Students have been invited to apply for a position on the 10-week Beacon programme, which will result in up to 20 work-based placements being offered on our Birmingham Children’s Hospital project.

To express interest in participating in the Beacon programme, the school will support students to produce creative applications using video and audio technology, steering them away from the standard written CV application process.

Successful applicants will then be offered a placement during our 10-week Beacon programme, providing them with an opportunity to gain experience working on site at our Birmingham Children's Hospital project, which is a significant healthcare redevelopment scheme in the Midlands. Students will be paired accordingly to compliment and support each other’s needs and abilities, while also being accompanied by a teacher/assistant from the school.

To kick things off, GRAHAM’s Building and Facilities Management divisions have collaborated to support the school’s new Employability Hub by donating £1,000. The Hub’s aim is to bridge the gap between SEND pupils and employment opportunities in Sandwell. Over the academic year, we will be reviewing opportunities to further support the Hub and its students’ progression into the world of work.

Ronan Hughes, Regional Director at GRAHAM Building, commented:

“GRAHAM is delighted to be working with The Westminster School to provide its students with opportunities to learn about the construction industry. By facilitating work-based placements on site at our Birmingham Children's Hospital redevelopment project, we hope to inspire the students to consider a career in construction, ultimately helping to improve employability outcomes for children with special educational needs and disabilities in the Midlands. We are hopeful the pilot Beacon programme is successful, with the model being replicated and rolled-out to other regions and GRAHAM divisions."

Alan Millar, Regional Director at GRAHAM Facilities Management, added:

“The launch of the school’s Employability Hub is a fantastic initiative which we are proud to support, through our relationship with Sandwell Council. We are confident that the Hub will deliver significant benefits to the students, helping them to learn and develop new skills to prepare them for working life.”

Vicky O'Connor, Career Consultant at The Westminster School, said:

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to GRAHAM for their invaluable support in our mission to redefine opportunities for students with special educational needs at The Westminster School and College in Sandwell, where only 0.7% of those known to local authorities with SEND gain paid employment, the Employability Hub stands as a beacon of hope. This initiative aspires to reshape this stark statistic dramatically, and we recognise that such transformative change is possible only with the unwavering support of forward-thinking employers like GRAHAM. Together, we are not just opening a new building; we are constructing futures and dismantling barriers. GRAHAM's commitment to this cause empowers us to dream bigger and strive for a future where every individual, regardless of their abilities, can thrive in gainful employment. Their partnership is not just a contribution but a catalyst for change, and we look forward to making a lasting impact on the lives of our exceptional students.”

Shaun Jackson, Director of Estates at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, further added:

“We’re delighted to be playing a part with GRAHAM on this project, which will provide invaluable experience to these young people. As a Trust, we’re passionate about, not just caring for young people, but supporting and championing them too, as we give similar opportunities in our team. It’s a pleasure to be working with our large construction partners in something that does just that – helping on the crucial first steps into a potential career.”

The redevelopment project for Birmingham Children's Hospital was awarded through the ProCure23 framework for the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

The scheme includes the creation of a new five-storey elective care hub that will house a new state-of-the art intraoperative MRI (iMRI) machine. This will provide seamless patient care during surgery and reduce the need for some children to travel to other parts of the UK for treatment. It will also provide additional clinical space for services. A key benefit of the redevelopment is improved thermal performance and energy efficiency by expanding the use of ground source heat pump technology.

The project will leave a legacy in the Birmingham area, hugely benefiting children and families, clinical staff and the wider community.