Almost 10 years ago David Cameron launched his concept of the Big Society which was designed to “to generate, develop and showcase new ideas to help people to come together in their neighbourhoods to do good things”.
Like many new ideas it was, of course, not original but looked to build on a tradition of communities helping each other out. It came in for a degree of derision and did not stand the test of time as a packaged policy initiative.
We have recently been involved in the refurbishment of the offices of the Coventry & District Samaritans – and to me it has summed up just what Cameron and his advisors were trying to capture.
The Samaritans is operated entirely by volunteers and at the centre they take 33,000 calls a year across 365 days, 24 hours a day.
When they came to see me back in February 2017 they were well underway with fund raising to improve their base in Earlsdon which, to be frank, was not a suitable environment for the work they were undertaking and the services they were offering.
We agreed to help and now two years later they have moved back in to a bright, modern, and wholly suitable base.
Deeley Construction has been involved, but the response from the business community has been superb. More than 10 companies have given their time at cost or for free and all of them were happy to help because they recognised not only the importance of the work the Samaritans does, but also the unbelievable commitment of those who work on their behalf often dealing with testing and distressing matters.
In an age with loneliness, anxiety and mental issues are making the headlines every day, their work has never been more important.
None of the companies involved were in it for the publicity or the glory, more that they have a sense of responsibility to their community and they realise the importance of that in a properly-functioning society in which every member matters.
So, several years after the government allowed their Big Society to wither on the vine in wake of the criticism it received, the concept is alive and well, and thriving in Coventry and, I believe, right across the UK.
Please bear that in mind when you see a Samaritans volunteer out on the street raising money.
The companies which worked on the scheme include architects IDP, Umberslade, Claddagh Electrical, CDE Contractors, Naughton Interiors, D B Heating & Plumbing, Nationwide Windows, Midlands Flooring, Cladding Components, Midlands Floor Screeding and G&M Carpentry
Peter Deeley, Managing Director
Orbit’s Fordham House in Stratford-Upon-Avon has won the Residential Property of the Year at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) awards, West Midlands.
Situated on the corner of Birmingham Road and Clopton Road, Fordham House comprises of 82 high-quality private rented apartments, with a focused letting strategy to support local workers key to the Stratford economy.
Adam Cooper, Commercial Director at Orbit, said: “We are delighted to receive this award, Fordham House is a great example of how creating much needed centrally located homes, for people working in local businesses, can help regenerate town centres.
“We are very proud to have won this award, fighting off strong competition from prestigious central Birmingham residential developments, and we hope that Stratford is proud to have an award-winning project in the town.”
Each home is designed with minimum maintenance requirements and the latest in cutting edge technology. Fordham House sits on a centrally located site once occupied by a redundant office building, giving residents easy access on foot or bicycle into the town and work places.
The prestigious annual RICS awards, sponsored by Sika Building Trust, celebrates the region’s most inspirational initiatives in the land, property and construction sectors that are having a significant positive impact on the communities they serve.
Chair of the judging panel for the RICS Awards, West Midlands, Bryony Martin of AECOM, said: “Orbit brought their experience of managing rental properties to create a scheme that delivers a modern interpretation of the local streetscape, high levels of customer care, a mixed community of tenants and commercial success. Quality specification choices reflect the project team’s long-term interest, including Smart technology and a four-storey feature living wall.”
Work started on site in 2016 and took two years to complete with all apartments now fully let. The development was brought to market through a partnership between Stratford Town Trust, Orbit, ABD Developments and Robothams Architects, with Deeley Construction as design and build contractors. Fordham House is owned and managed by Orbit, with Stratford Town Trust continuing to retain the freehold.
Peter Deeley, Managing Director of the Deeley Group, added: “We are thrilled to see Fordham House pick up this prestigious award. It has been a fantastic example of working in partnership with Stratford Town Trust and Orbit, to deliver a project that has brought much-needed new homes to the local community in Stratford.
“With so many strong entries for this prize, it is testament to everyone who worked on Fordham House that it emerged as the winner.”
A project to help secure the future of one of the area’s most valuable community support services has been heralded as a “fabulous achievement”.
Coventry & District Samaritans, which takes more than 30,000 calls a year, have returned to their Earlsdon home after the complex has undergone a total refurbishment which will guarantee its future on the site.
City-based Deeley Construction carried out the works which have been funded through the 29th of May 1961 Charitable Trust, the National Lottery and the Coventry Churches Charity as well through Samaritans funds.
The 135 volunteers returned to their Moor Street base to be welcomed by the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor John Blundell.
He said: “The Samaritans volunteers undertake vital work and offer a superb resource – all from a desire to help other people. Not only is that service lifeline to people who need help, it is also very demanding on the volunteers themselves.
“This project shows what can be achieved when everyone comes together and pulls in the same direction to help a good cause and it is a fabulous achievement.
“I would like to thank everyone involved in the project on behalf of Coventry City Council and the people of Coventry.”
The renovations have seen a complete refurbishment of the facility, including improved access for disabled volunteers, more storage for the fund-raising shop and enhanced acoustics to assist in secure, sensitive conversations.
The organisation’s shop, which is Earlsdon’s oldest and first opened in the 1860s as a provisions merchant, raises around £500 a week for the group.
Many of the companies involved carried out the work at cost, while the Coventry Resource Centre for the Blind offered the volunteers a base from which to work while the project was carried out on their Moor Street offices.
Trevor Montague, Director of Coventry & District Samaritans, said: “We have been working on this project for several years. In February 2017 I met Peter Deeley and he inspired me with his vision and stressed the importance of future proofing the work we did – and we now have a base which will serve us well for years to come.
“There has been so much work carried out by so many people and the results will make such a difference to our volunteers and to the support they offer the people of the city and the district.”
Mike Ballinger project managed the work for the Coventry & District Samaritans alongside city-based architects IDP, and other contractors assisting on the project included Umberslade, Claddagh Electrical, CDE Contractors, Naughton Interiors, D B Heating & Plumbing, Nationwide Windows, Midlands Flooring, Cladding Components, Midlands Floor Screeding, G&M Carpentry and JK Scaffolding.
Peter Deeley, managing director of the Deeley Group, said: “I think the efforts put in by so many people simply reflect the appreciation of the work undertaken by the Samaritans and its volunteers.
“The refurbishment will not only make working conditions much better for the volunteers but it will also improve efficiencies while the work to the shop will hopefully boosts the funds it raises.”
Left to right: Lady Mayoress Lindsey Blundell, Peter Deeley, Lord Mayor Cllr John Blundell, Andrew Jones (29th of May 1961 Charitable Trust|), Trevor Montague.
Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice in Coventry has received a fundraising boost thanks to the success of a charity bike ride which was the first event of the European City of Sport year.
Participants in the 2019 Starley Sportive raised over £13,000 for the Ash Green-based hospice and the funds have now been handed over to support its operations.
The sell-out event had 500 cyclists taking to the roads to raise money for the charity, which has been providing specialist care to children with life-limiting conditions in Coventry since 2011.
The money raised is enough to provide one-on-one care for three children at the hospice for one week.
This year’s event, organised by Coventry Road Club and supported by property company Deeley Group, saw money raised for a wide range of charities, with Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice chosen as the official charity for the day.
Riders, who set off from the headquarters of Deeley Group on Coventry Business Park took on one of three courses – a 28.6 mile route, a 63.2 mile long-distance ride, or an epic 86.5 mile challenge.
Edward Hudson, Business Development Manager at the Deeley Group, said: “A great deal of work went into the planning and organisation of the event by Coventry Road Club and we were happy to support them. On top of that there was all the exertions of the cyclist – so it is great to see that such a fantastic amount was raised.”
The Starley Sportive – named after modern bicycle pioneers James and John Kemp Starley – was one of the first mass participation events celebrating the city’s 12 months as European City of Sport.
The race was started by Lord Mayor Councillor John Blundell and BBC Coventry and Warwickshire’s Vic Minnett.
Marc Dwyer, from Zoë’s Place, said: “This was a great all-round effort and we are really grateful to the Coventry Road Club, the Deeley Group and all the cyclists who took part. It is a great community event and the funds raised will go to fund the vital work we undertake.”
Ian Court, Race Secretary at Coventry Road Club, said: “This is an event that can grow each year, our goal this year was to increase participation to 500 riders and it’s amazing that we hit this.
“We are sorry some people missed out due to the event selling out but we are already making plans to be able to cater for more next year.
“This was an event for all in every sense. We had riders of various experience taking to a bike to help a good cause and they have certainly done that.
“Zoë’s Place does some fabulous work and hopefully this will help that continue.”
PICTURE CAPTION: Left to right: ront – Edward Hudson (Deeley Group), Debra Lacey (Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice) and Ian Court (Coventry Road Club). Back – Kerri Price and Tracy Sutheran (Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice).
Work is underway on the next stage in the development of Maybrook Retail Park in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Deeley Construction has started work on the fit-out scheme of the new Lidl store at the retail park which is located one mile from Stratford’s town centre.
The firm tendered directly to the supermarket giant to secure the £1 million project and completion of the fit-out of the 21,965 sq. ft. unit is targeted for May this year.
The project comes following the Deeley Construction’s completion of an extension to Unit 1 of the existing retail building development.
Work began on the £2.4 million extension and refurbishment project on behalf of BMW (UK) Trustees Limited in June 2018 and was completed in February.
It incorporated over cladding of the large steel frame unit, new shop frontages and entrances to Units 2 and 3 at the retail park.
Martin Gallagher, Managing Director of Deeley Construction, said: “We are delighted to have secured the project to fit-out the new Lidl store at Maybrook Retail Park and continue our development of the site.
“To have won this contract is testament to the fantastic work our team did on site in completing the initial extension.
“It is very pleasing to be working with Lidl, a major supermarket chain, on this project.”
The Deeley Group is to raise and distribute money for local good causes as part of a new charity initiative
The construction and property development firm which has been based in the city for more than 80 years – has established a charity which will see its 70 employees raise money throughout the year.
Any monies raised will be distributed to charities and good causes, nominated by employees, across the city and county with the focus on smaller organisations.
As well as collecting money raised by staff, The Deeley Group Charity will also organise standalone events to go into the charity pot.
Ian Clorley, a trustee of the Deeley Group Charity, said: “The Deeley Group has been renowned for its support of local charities, but this is a way in which all staff can get involved.
“It means that not only will they get to play a full part in the fund raising but we will also be asking for suggestions of charities and good causes we can work for and raise money for.
“We have already had some really good suggestions and are now getting to plan what we will be doing in 2019.”
Group managing director Peter Deeley, whose father started the firm, said the initiative had been driven by staff.
He said: “Although we operate across the UK, our heart is very much here in Coventry and Warwickshire, and we are very much a part of the local community.
“Over the years we have helped many local causes, and the formation of our own charity will allow that continue and give our team and chance to shape how much we raise and where the funds go to.”