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Building Birmingham Scholarship

Source: PSE Aug/Sept 2018

Clive Skidmore, assistant director for housing development at Birmingham City Council, takes us back to when the Building Birmingham Scholarship programme was created and explains how it has helped young people since then.

In 2008, the City Housing Partnership (CHP) agreed that it would be fitting to remember the contribution that Tony Roberts, the previous development and joint venture manager, had made to the housing regeneration of the city. They agreed to develop support to help individuals who aspire to make our neighbourhoods great places to live, learn, work and visit, and to reach their full potential within the city. Roberts was a longstanding manager in the council, delivering regeneration schemes in priority neighbourhoods across the city.

Discussions took place as to how best to create the new fund and to apply that fund to both support and encourage young talented people to aspire to follow in Roberts’ footsteps. The aim was to provide a skills development pathway through education and training that underpinned the idea around sustainable neighbourhoods that Roberts envisaged through all his work. Officers at the council aligned this idea to the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT) strategic objectives to work under the ethos of providing an increased emphasis on getting our services closer to the customer. This was further developed to look at ways in which young people can gain the skills and vision that Roberts had and which he passed down to the staff he mentored.

This new initiative – launched formally at the Constructors Framework event in November 2012 – was aimed at both council staff and BMHT partners to play a greater role in supporting, training and mentoring young people. It sought to bring on new talent and to train and develop people to replace staff within the council’s various directorates or in helping to access a career with partner organisations. The proposals would see the provision of a structured programme of support for a number of young people a year. Work experience and mentoring would be provided by the council, registered social landlords, and our construction partners under the banner of the Birmingham Skills Development Pathway (later renamed Building Birmingham Scholarship in 2013).

There are large numbers of young people within deprived and poorer neighbourhoods in Birmingham who are very capable of undertaking Higher Education but are precluded from doing so simply by the expense of the high tuition fees or lack of social support. This affects their ability to afford necessary equipment such as computers, internet access and textbooks. Such people would inevitably leave education at either 16 or 18 years of age without the opportunity to fulfil their true potential. Some bursaries exist through academic institutions, but these are few and far between and are likely to shrink further.

Proposal details

The initiative targets young people from disadvantaged groups, which might include children in care or young people who have experienced a period of homelessness.

The Skills Development Pathway funds the support packages that might include any tuition fees and essential approved equipment for the students. The bursary is funded from contractual agreements secured from developers as part of the BMHT Constructors Framework. The current agreed rate is £500 per unit constructed, which includes homes for rent and sale. The council expects the majority of this constructor organisation contribution to be channelled through the organisation’s corporate social responsibility programmes that all of the current framework partners have.

The city council provides unpaid work experience during university recess for the students within the various directorates or with CHP members and with contractors and developers on the BMHT construction programme. Appropriate mentoring is also provided.

All framework partners are invited to join a working group to oversee the delivery of the initiative, and all partners contributing receive financial reports detailing the progress on a quarterly basis.


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