Posted by editor 26/11/2013 0 Comment 3708 views


PHASES is a construction firm with a triple bottom line. Andrew Burns finds out how they do it. //

Brian Daley can relate to the ethos of The Big Issue: a hand up, not a handout. Four years ago the ex-serviceman was living in a hostel and battling an alcohol addiction after leaving the army and following the breakdown of his marriage. Struggling for work as a self-employed labourer, Daley, from Clapham, knew it was time to reach out.

“After things broke down I was a heavy drinker very close to living on the streets,” he says. “I took the step of going to rehab and trying to sort myself out.” This was the first step on Daley’s road to recovery. Now 39, he sought help through Big House, a company which helps ex-servicemen.

He quickly found a place in a training scheme with south London-based social enterprise PHASES. Founded by Glenn Wheaton and Stuart Allen with the aim of supporting homeless and vulnerably housed people, PHASES offers clients a route into the construction industry, brings empty property back into use and offers social housing. “It’s a triple win,” as project manager and co-founder Wheaton notes.

“I was self-employed at the time and struggling to make enough money to get by,” says Daley. “I wasn’t getting paid every week and PHASES offered me the option not only of a salary every week but also the opportunity to gain experience in other aspects of construction. It allowed me to pay my bills every month and start to live a normal life.”

PHASES is named after the process in which its clients receive support: in four successive stages. The first focuses on workshop-based training through a 12-week DIY-skills course; the second involves low-level on-site experience; the third offers experience alongside professional construction workers on property renovation, and the final stage is where the individual moves into employment.

“Offering more than just training is crucial. To be able to offer people on-site experience is a huge motivating factor,” says Wheaton. Established in 2001, it wasn’t steered down the construction route until 2006, a move that was born out of an increase in the number of empty properties in London at the time. Over the last four years, PHASES has offered training to around 100 people, with up to one-third of that number gaining onsite experience.

The other focus is on housing renovation, with PHASES taking on leases of residential properties that have lain empty for a period time and bringing them back into use for social housing. “The properties are rented at affordable prices, largely to families and single parents,” he adds.

With an extensive catalogue of renovated properties in south London already completed, the social enterprise has big plans for the future and earlier this year turned to Big Issue Invest to help complete the renovation of a disused Victorian house into two family-sized flats. “The finance from Big Issue Invest was for cash flow in our biggest project to date, the two flats in Brockley,” says Wheaton.

Next up for PHASES is to expand outside of south London. As well as securing £235,000 funding to bring nine family properties to use in the local area, the organisation has just confirmed £590,000 to purchase empty properties in Brighton and Worthing, which will include around 28 bed spaces and potentially the development of a large disused commercial building into housing.

Changing the face of social housing is something that resonates with Daley, who first joined the Territorial Army at 17 before being discharged because of his drinking problem. “Having been through needing help myself, I get a feeling of satisfaction knowing that I am giving something back in my work,” he says. “I can say that I contribute something to society by creating homes for people in need.”


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