Social enterprise supports construction trainees back in to work

Edinburgh-based construction social enterprise Rebuild is currently supporting five local trainees back in to work as they convert seven shipping containers into artist studios as part of a wider community regeneration project in Leith.

Rebuild supports individuals with barriers to work such as ex-offenders, formerly homeless, sufferers of PTSD and other mental health difficulties. They focus on helping those with barriers to work gain valuable learning, skills and self-confidence through live, on-site construction training.

Paul Hunter, founder of Rebuild, said: “The positive financial implications to the local economy made by supporting people with barriers to work are huge. For example; it is conservatively estimated that the savings made by keeping one individual with a history of offending, out of the criminal justice system are around £50,000 per year, factoring in the cost to keep a person in prison along with social work, legal aid and numerous other associated expenses.

“We work with our trainees with the view to helping them change their path and learn new skills that will help them towards a brighter more prosperous future. An important part of this is allowing them to earn money whilst they learn, so we support them by paying the living wage.”

Esther, a Rebuild trainee who has a history of mental health difficulties, has said of her involvement: “Rebuild has changed a lot for me. I have not been this happy concerning work for as long as I can remember.”

Rebuild founder Paul Hunter

The wider project, breathing new life into the old tram depot site on Leith Walk, is being funded by the Scottish Government (£750,000) and the City of Edinburgh Council (£530,000). Delivered for the council by development partner hub South East, with Morrison Construction the main contractor, the project will see an at risk building brought back into use, as well as providing much needed space for artists and other creative entrepreneurs, managed by art and education trust Out of the Blue.

Marcus Weurman, development manager with hub South East, said: “We engaged the team for the shipping container fit out through Rebuild as part of a wider regeneration project in Leith and we’ve been extremely impressed with the dedication and professionalism shown.

“We’re incredibly proud to be supporting this social enterprise in its first live project. Knowing that the trainees have grown in skills, experience and confidence during their time on site is fantastic. We’re in no doubt that these are just the first of many people Rebuild will go on to help and train in the future, providing invaluable opportunities and making a real difference.”

Cllr Kate Campbell, housing and economy convener, said: “There are five local trainees working with us through social enterprise, Rebuild, involved in this fantastic project. It’s a great chance to develop skills and gain experience. And once it’s complete there will be space for local artists and other creative entrepreneurs as well as much needed community space.”

Paul added: “The self-confidence and sense of self-worth that comes with learning new skills and immediately being able to see the results of that labour is something that helped me through a difficult time and turn a corner in my own life. I believe that if we can replicate that with even a fraction of our trainees, then we will make a lasting impact and help them positively improve their lives.”

Rebuild’s purpose is to help people in need to help themselves. They do this within a safe boundary and with professional expertise. The social enterprise focuses on innovating, repurposing, and re-skilling as a way of delivering economic, ecological and social value.

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