Abbey school

Our client Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (RMBC) introduced us to Abbey School in 2015. At that time, the school were in ‘special measures’ and it soon became clear that serious action was required if the school were to improve. After having toured the school and met the students, it was obvious that Fortem could offer the much needed support as part of our commitment to tackling social exclusion.

Abbey School is lucky enough to have special young people as students, all of which have a Statement of Special Needs or an Education, Health and Care Plan. The majority of these young people have difficulties in learning and Abbey prides itself on supporting each of them in the best possible way so that they achieve their full potential. These young people are some of the most vulnerable young people in our society and have been, or still are, victims of abuse in all shapes and forms.

Our first offer of support was to become the school’s Enterprise Advisor through The Careers & Enterprise School. This was facilitated by RMBC who naturally matched Fortem with Abbey to equip their students with vital employability skills.

Lane End Retreat is owned by Abbey School and was previously used as a home for the school caretaker. The house had been empty for some time and a leak in upstairs bathroom caused damage throughout the property. This gave us a great opportunity to develop a legacy project that would impact on the school, their students and the wider community.

After consulting with the Head Teacher Luci Windle, it was agreed that the small kitchen and dining room would be made into one room to allow parents and children to work together in the kitchen, whether this would be to cook, chat or complete homework and would create a real family home environment.

This project gave our apprentices vital skills and training opportunities to help with their own portfolio and be involved in various elements of work that they would not normally undertake. Our apprentices mentored the children and taught them skills such as decorating and working together as a team.

Following the renovation works, we worked closely with the teachers and students from Abbey School. This gave us an insight into just how vulnerable their young students were, particularly regarding internet grooming and e-safety but also how to live independently. As a result, we introduced QR codes to Lane End Retreat.

QR or Quick Response Codes are a type of two-dimensional barcode that can be read using smartphones and dedicated QR reading devices, that link directly to text, emails, websites and more.

Working with the students, we created real films of young people carrying out everyday tasks such as making a cup of tea or using a microwave to support them living independently. The films were uploaded to YouTube and linked to QR codes which are now displayed throughout Lane End Retreat. Other QR codes in the house direct young people to professional websites that support them into the world of work by helping them to create a CV or raise awareness of issues such as internet grooming to keep them safe from sexual abuse and exploitation.

As well as creating a safe, homely and interactive environment, Lane End Retreat is also now being used as a welfare home for children about to be put into foster care. As a result, this journey hasn’t just made a difference to those at Abbey School, but is having an impact on everyone in the local community.

"The whole of Team Abbey and all of us at Nexus Multi Academy Trust cannot thank Fortem enough for their generosity: not only for renovating the house but also for involving our pupils in the repairs with care and patience."

"We look forward to further developing the partnership that we share for a long time to come. The excellent work of the Abbey School leadership team and Fortem will have a real and lasting impact on the lives of our children and young people. Our Trust vision is that we are "Learning together; to be the best we can be" and this project is a great example of how we are realising this with valued partners who share our passion for child-centred practice." Nexus Multi Academy Trust Chief Executive Officer Warren Carrat.

Hope Church, Rotherham

Our Management Trainees project-managed the full renovation of a small community centre leading the whole project, from fundraising and sourcing materials through to recruiting volunteers and devising and running the programme.

"On behalf of all who are associated and help within Hope Centre, I would like to thank Fortem who have made it possible to transform what was a small operational community centre into an incredible centre serving the community that will provide facilities for hundreds of young people, instead of just a handful. Young people in Rotherham have a safe, positive environment to learn and enjoy, because of the generosity and support of Fortem. I am delighted and humbled by the incredible work that has taken place and offer a heart-felt thank you to every person that has helped turn this building into a hub of life and hope." Danny Miller, Minister of Hope Church & Chair Trustee of Hope Community Centre, Rotherham

Acorns Children’s Hospice

This charity hospice provides comfortable accommodation for children with life limiting illnesses. As part of our commitment to leaving a legacy in the communities we work within, we have supported Acorns for the last 5 years every year during their annual clean and clear week.

Staff and trades at our branches in Birmingham and our trusted subcontract partners have transformed the bereavement suite used by families after the death of a child, refurbished the flats where families stay to be near to their children including the kitchen and bathroom replacements and improved the memorial garden.