On all contracts, we adopt local schools which are either underperforming or in a deprived area to prioritise these students for our work experience programmes. This commitment also involves supporting the school’s events and fundraising activities, introducing them to our current apprentices and management trainees, providing 1:1 mentoring with volunteers from around the company, holding career days where we can advise on CV writing and interview techniques and organising site visits so they can see our teams in action.

Dinnington High School

Dinnington Resource Centre is used by many residents of Dinnington and is an important community hub. The facilities at the centre were tired and the toilets had fallen into a state of disrepair, having not received an upgrade since installation 20 years ago.

We offered to deliver a bespoke programme to refurbish the male and female toilets which would also serve as a "live" project for students from Dinnington High School.

20 job vacancies were advertised at the school and the Year 9 and Year 10 students were invited to apply for a ‘role’ on the project. The positions available included commercial, site management, customer liaison, H&S and trade and gave the students the opportunity to learn a range of skills including but not limited to construction skills, financial management, problem solving, time management and creative thinking. Over 35 applications were received, all of which were invited to an interview, and the successful applicants were recruited into the delivery team to bring the toilets back up to standard.

The Dinnington Live project focused on the individual development of the young people, helping them to build valuable personal and employment skills. Through the activities such as planning, delivery, supervision and management, each young person learned how to co-operate with others, take responsibility for their own actions, and develop the confidence and determination to overcome challenges in a supportive setting.

The immediate impact of the programme was positive feedback from participants, which demonstrated a growth in confidence and skills, the enthusiasm and the pride demonstrated by the young people and brand new toilet facilities for the centre.

Volunteering with Oasis Academy

When we heard that one in five children in Birmingham leave primary school unable to read properly, we wanted to help. As a result, we piloted a volunteer reading partnership with the Oasis Academy, Birmingham to boost pupils’ reading skills. Volunteers visit once a week to read with pupils and encourage them to explore and enjoy books. The scheme has been hugely successful, with the volunteers contributing to improving the reading skills of 84 young children. Volunteers also gave the school garden a makeover by tidying flower beds, cleaning up decking and repainting fences. They now have plans to help to build a library for the pupils.

Michelle Lee, Oasis Academy Principal, said: "We’re thrilled with the partnership with Fortem. Their staff have put their hearts into these projects to improve our facilities and launch the reading partnership. Having outside volunteers working with us really benefits our pupils."

Adopting a school for work experience and mentoring opportunities

Fortem have been working with Ernesford Grange Community Academy in Coventry to deliver mentored work experience opportunities. One of our operatives, Jimmy Crehan, received the following feedback.

Andy McCann, Head of Careers at Ernesford Grange Community Academy, said: "I would firstly like to say a huge thank you to Jimmy for the support and time he invested in one of our students here at Ernesford Grange Community Academy. The opportunity has been a wonderful and invaluable experience for the student and one I know he will cherish and remember for a long time. I have seen him mature and grow as person over the last six months, he has embraced his learning during this important GCSE examination period.

The student involved has informed me of the insight this work experience at Fortem has given him into the lives of other people, some less fortunate than himself, by visiting their home environment to carry out repairs. Working with Jimmy and getting to know him really gave our student an insight into working life and the responsibilities that come with being an adult and the dependencies of children. Jimmy was really patient with our student and explained things clearly in order for him to take on new the learning and gain the experience by having a go.

It is companies such as Fortem and the brilliant mentors within the organisation that make work experience for our students here at Ernesford Grange Community Academy such an invaluable experience."