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Supporters changing lives

How volunteering helped instil a sense of pride at Kier


When Richard Charman, Operations Director at construction company Kier, saw the state of a Loughborough-based family’s house two years ago, he was shocked. Richard talks about how he organised a team of staff and supply chain colleagues to volunteer their time to turn the house into a home.

We can do a lot more than that.

That’s what I thought when I visited the home of a family supported by Barnardo’s, our charity partner at the time. Kier was asked to decorate two children’s bedrooms. The mum had a health condition and her two teenage boys cared for her. The state of the house came as a complete shock and I couldn’t believe people were expected to live like that.

I was really pleased by the response of our staff and contractors when I spoke to them about what I wanted us to do.

I put together a storyboard, with pictures from the family’s home and asked if they could volunteer their time and provide materials to renovate the house completely. “Go away and think about it,” I said. But each of the 15 Directors from our supply chain contractors said then and there that they’d be happy to help. Before they left, we had donations of new carpet, a bathroom suite, doors and tiling. More was to follow.

Our team of volunteers came from our management team and supply chain.

We had managers working with, and labouring for, carpet fitters, electricians, painters and decorators, plumbers, landscapers, tillers, joiners and more. It gave our guys, predominantly in management positions, an opportunity to see how other tradespeople in the industry worked. We were all very hands on.


It was a massive challenge.

We committed to doing the work over five days and started gutting the house at 7.30am on the Monday morning, working until 6.30pm each night. The two young lads couldn’t believe it when they saw what we were doing. They’d been let down so many times and doubted that the promises I had been making were real.

We made a great team and were determined to get the work finished.

Over the planning period and during the work week, we got to know the family, and the youngest lad in particular, really well. He helped us put some of the furniture together. We saw the family take a real pride in being a part of changing their lives and that helped to instil pride in all of us.

Over the five days, 27 members of staff contributed 382 hours and supply chain colleagues gave 433 hours of their time.


We gutted most of the house, installed a new bathroom, decorated throughout, fitted new carpets and vinyl flooring, and added new furniture, thanks to a £2,000 donation from the Kier Foundation. Amongst other things, mum's room got a well-deserved makeover. The family were over the moon when they saw their new house. The boys are now happy to bring friends home, whereas before they were embarrassed to, and would stay out late roaming the streets. Now, they sit down and have meals together as a family and the lads do their homework.

It would be brilliant if everyone could give one day of their time to volunteer.

Companies like Kier can help people do this. They work with local communities and have resources that can support the work of charities like Barnardo’s. Children are our future and not everyone is born fortunate in life.

Kier raised £225,000 for Barnardo’s over two years. Get in touch to find out how we can support your company’s volunteering and fundraising, and how you too can change children’s lives.

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