Fortem’s mission to enhance the life chances of thousands reached out to Africa, where a team re-visited the Togo village of Agome-Sevah to build a facility modelled on our successful 4Life Academy in Birmingham.

Project director John Muir spearheaded a group that spent two weeks fixing the academy ready for hundreds of local children to use each year. He was joined by engineers and apprentices from several branches who used their skills to complete the wiring, decoration and plumbing as well as fix the doors and windows.

Fortem teamed up with a charity called Dekamile, which works on projects in Togo, and raised over £12,000 to make the academy possible. This follows a similar project to build a health clinic built two years previously in the same village.

John explains, "It was tiring, with work starting each day at sunrise and finishing at 6pm when it set. The academy provides three classrooms and a large assembly hall, which will give local people opportunities to learn skills that would not have been possible before. We’ve made a difference, and it will inspire us to continue doing the same back in the UK."

Supporting foodbanks

Last winter, one of our branches teamed up with sixth form pupils at Sheffield Park Academy to collect essential items for the S2 Food Bank network.

Our efforts helped to provide vulnerable people living locally with access to essential food and drink during the winter months. With the school, we collected items including tinned fruit, potted meat, baked beans and tinned fish. We then spent a day with the S2 Food Bank network to distribute the food across the local communities to those in need, using our fleet of vans for deliveries and providing volunteers in local distribution centres.

As part of the initiative, we also invited representatives from the Food Bank network to visit the school to give a presentation on the support needed, while pupils also visited the food bank facilities to see first-hand the work that is undertaken.

Wide Horizons

Last year we supported a national charity, Wide Horizons, through regular fundraising. This charity gives children from deprived areas the opportunity to experience outdoor adventures as part of their education and development ( Our fundraising helped to send 40 children from our local communities on a life-changing course, which volunteers from our workforce helped to run.

One participant said: "Just like to say thanks for the opportunity – I enjoyed myself. Big thanks to all staff as they were excellent mentors and helped push us."