The Beacon Construction Crafts studentsOur Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 Construction Craft students have been honing their practical skills as part of an exciting project to transform Whitehills Social Club, in Chester-le-Street, into ‘The Beacon’ – a revitalised hub for large events, and smaller rental spaces for the community and private organisations.

Durham Villages Regeneration Partnership (DVRC), a partnership between Durham County Council (DCC) and Keepmoat Homes - which has delivered over 2,000 homes and invested more than £240m in Durham communities since 2001 – has again teamed up with New College Durham to create fantastic real-life opportunities for our construction students.

DVRC sourced and donated over £1,300 of materials to Heartwood Skills, the non-profit organisation behind the renovation of the social club. Plans include spaces to support the community with skills classes, personalised education for young people and counselling. There will also be a community café with a field to fork garden for groups to learn about and grow vegetables.

Dave Anderson, Founder & CEO at Heartwood Skills, said:

“Our vision is a space where young people are offered a second chance. We have raised around £400k so far, to buy the building, repurpose the layout and upgrade electrical, heating and plumbing systems. This could not have been achieved without the support of our funding partners and businesses like DVRC and New College Durham coming forward to offer their time and resources.”

Iain McCartney, Vocational Instructor, at New College Durham commented:

“This real-life working experience has created some excellent learning opportunities and the chance for our students to apply the knowledge and skills they have been developing with us in college. Christopher and Kaci are both on Level 1 and have enjoyed undertaking supervised maintenance works and painting and decorating at The Beacon. It has allowed them to work alongside other skills professionals whilst developing their teamwork, planning, problem solving and communication skills. All of our students have been a credit to NCD, and the pressures of working to a time scale will help them understand the approach they need to take in the future on large scale projects.”

Pictured from left to right: Christopher King, Geoff Scott, Cllr Mark Wilkes, Dave Anderson, Iain McCartney and Kaci France.