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Saint-Gobain UK, leader in the sustainable habitat and construction materials markets, has announced its new ‘together’ charity partner in the UK will be children’s charity, Barnardo’s.

Barnardo’s, a leading children’s charity, helps to give children a voice, defending, safeguarding and supporting the most vulnerable in society. The key focus of the new partnership will be to help vulnerable young people across the UK, particularly those who have spent their childhood in Local Authority care, and need support to enter the world of work as an independent adult.

Throughout the partnership, Saint-Gobain will extend its network of Employment, Training and Skills services to ensure that vulnerable young people, including care leavers, don’t miss out on the support, advice and work opportunities available to those from different backgrounds.

Saint-Gobain will also be using its expertise to support the Gap Homes programme – the construction of a series of starter homes on unused Local Authority land near existing Barnardo’s services around the country, to be rented to young care leavers and other vulnerable young people as a “stepping stone” to independent living.

This new partnership is in addition to the Building Hope initiative, which was established earlier in 2016 in collaboration with Saint-Gobain. Building Hope will help to tackle the lack of suitable accommodation facing care leavers, through the refurbishment of an existing and unused Barnardo’s building in Crystal Palace, into a  nine bed supported accommodation. The building will form a central support hub for the residents as well as other care leavers from the surrounding boroughs, providing the skills and support required to manage the difficult transition from care to personal and economic independence. The youth will gain vocational skills and undertake training courses in construction and other trades/sectors as part of a comprehensive engagement to employment model.

Mike Chaldecott, General Delegate and Regional Chief Executive for Construction Products, UK & Ireland at Saint-Gobain said: “Throughout this partnership, we want to go beyond fundraising and use our unique position in the construction industry to really support the next generation.

“As well as building a series of starter homes, over the next three years, to help care leavers into independent living, we also want to encourage young people into an industry that needs young talent to help plug the skills gap and will offer a rewarding career path. We’ll do this by developing work placements, apprenticeships, as well as coaching and mentoring programmes.

“By showing solidarity with young people, we will not only help to provide life-critical support but, in turn, will help confront a range of wider issues facing society, truly supporting our local communities and creating a lasting legacy.”

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said “We are delighted to have been chosen as Saint-Gobain’s charity partner. The expertise that Saint-Gobain brings to this partnership will ensure that we can create the best possible start for young people, particularly care leavers looking to take the next steps towards independence.”

The ‘together’ charity programme was established in 2002 and has grown to include all businesses within Saint-Gobain UK & Ireland, raising a total of £3.2 million to date for a range of charity partners including Help the Hospices and Macmillan Cancer Support.

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