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2015 Mowlem Award winners case study


Shekinah’s Head of Employability Soo Brizell-Hogg talks to us about her organisation and winning the 2015 Mowlem Award.

Please tell us a little about Shekinah and what you do.

Shekinah is a charity that has been supporting vulnerable people across Plymouth and Torbay for over 20 years with recovery from homelessness, drug addiction alongside ex-offenders. We help people gain control and purpose in their lives. We offer early intervention support and services through our drop-in centre and provide support for every individual to achieve the goals they want including accommodation, training, employment, health and wellbeing.

We’re also an accredited training provider running employability programmes for those we support. These consist of training, skills and volunteering opportunities through commercial contracts that we have. We want to make sure that our services really reflect the needs of the community. We’re here as a team to really help people move forward with their lives.

Can you give an example of someone your organisation has helped?

Richard’s a construction worker who by the age of 37 had lost his job, home and family.

Fast-forward one year and life started to look much more positive. Richard put his construction skills and experience to use as a training supervisor for Shekinah and has become a really valuable member of the team.

What does winning the Mowlem Award and the grant mean to you and your organisation?

Shekinah feels very proud to be associated with B&CE first and foremost. To be the first beneficiary of the Mowlem award is really very special for us.

How will the funding help you and/or your organisation? What will it allow you to achieve?

The funding will make a huge difference and will be used to help transform people’s lives. We have a social enterprise that focuses on developing practical skills in painting and decorating and maintenance. The clients who volunteer with the enterprise benefit from practical skills development and enhanced employability skills as well as peer-led support.

My two first steps are to use a small amount of the money to promote what we’re doing. More publicity will bring greater access to opportunities. More work for us means more jobs for the people that we’re trying to help.  

Secondly we wish to use the funds to unlock employment opportunities; to give you an example, we had a fabulous young woman who came through Shekinah. She started as a volunteer and we helped her gain NVQ Level 1 in construction skills and then a CSCS card. We were able to support her through an initial work placement at Mi-Space for four weeks and now she is self-employed working alongside one of the subcontractors for Mi-Space itself. We enabled her to sharpen her skills to a point that allowed her to work.

Currently we have a gentleman with us who is working part time, with a young family and we’d like to be able to offer him more. With this funding, we’ll be able to offer him a twelve month contract, which will make a huge difference to him and his family.

Anything you’d like to say about the service and support you’ve received from us?

A breath of fresh air – really fabulous. My communication with B&CE has been friendly, supportive and energetic and reflects the B&CE Charitable trust as a whole. We’re only a small charity, so by making the process straightforward and easy to manage, B&CE has made such a difference.