Coachmakers and Centrepoint team outside Huxley House

Coachlines - September 2021

23.09.21 Liveryman Andrew Blatherwick

Master Coachmaker visits Centrepoint

On a bright September morning, writes Liveryman Andrew Blatherwick member of the Charity Committee, I joined Master Coachmaker Sarah Sillars OBE, and Charity Committee Chairman Eric Wallbank to visit Centrepoint’s house on Huxley Road in London, where a Coachmakers’ donation has funded the refurbishment of one of the apartments. Here we met the Centrepoint team, who were all delighted to have received the support of the Coachmakers. Funding Manager Millie Hui, Director of Fundraising Julie Milnes, Senior Independent Living Manager Steve Dumbrell and Housing Officer Bodrul Alom showed us around the property and outlined the details of its Independent Living Programme.

The programme is designed to provide accommodation for people working on apprenticeships who cannot afford accommodation in the area, this is particularly true in London. At Huxley Road there are six apartments for apprentices working locally. The accommodation is not for the homeless but intended as a stepping-stone from supported housing into the real world where they can live, work and earn a living, paying their way by means of an affordable rent and given advice on managing their finances to save for a permanent home of their own. The property has a Centrepoint manager who is on call to provide help and support for the residents should they need it.

Steve Dumbrell of Centrepoint said: “On behalf of Centrepoint, we would like to convey our sincerest gratitude to the Worshipful Company of Coachmakers for its donation towards an accommodation unit at our Huxley Road Independent Living development. This important project makes such a huge difference to disadvantaged young people who are motivated to make a successful future for themselves, yet are struggling with renting somewhere affordable in London. This unit provides the opportunity to live in truly affordable self-contained accommodation and the much-needed security of tenure for a minimum of two years allowing them to fully focus on their future.”

Sitting roomOne Huxley Road resident commented: ‘’Centrepoint has helped me so much with my living arrangements. I am so happy to have Centrepoint help me out of homelessness and since I’ve moved into Centrepoint I have received amazing support from the housing team. They have also helped me financially when I was in hardship and with the help of Centrepoint I am able to live independently.’’

With the Master’s vast experience of working with apprentices and apprenticeship schemes a lively discussion took place exchanging stories and knowledge of how to get the best out of this sort of scheme. Centrepoint and the Coachmakers are in discussion to further develop apprenticeships in the engineering sector for young people in their care, who would not otherwise get the opportunity to consider engineering as a career. If you are able to offer any apprenticeships, please do let us know so we can co-ordinate with Centrepoint and find applicants.

Huxley Road is part of a long-term plan to provide 300 Independent Living Programme bed places in London and Manchester by the end of 2021, and deliver 300 apprentices into work who will eventually become independent members of society.

Master Coachmaker Sarah Sillars said: “The impact that this support provides to working young people, giving them a chance to live independently, is leading edge. So many young people in apprenticeships and other low-earning industry roles would benefit from practical and financial support to take them further away from dependency. This scheme provides accommodation and rent reduction to enable them to move nearer independence, which is at the heart of what we do, as an active Livery investing in young people. The safeguarding of young people is hugely important and as Coachmakers we should be very proud of the contribution we have made.”

Centrepoint has erected a plaque by the entrance to Huxley Road with the company crest stating that The Coachmakers has enabled this development.