In February 2017, representatives of Nottingham City Homes, SBS and its supply chain partners attended the grand re-opening of the Sheila Roper Community Centre in Nottingham.
Between 2015 and the end of 2016, SBS delivered an £8 million external wall insulation scheme for NCH - work that entailed the treatment of more than 1,100 social and private properties. As part of its commitment to the project, SBS - together with key supply chain partners such as PermaRock products and Nationwide Windows - agreed to support the refurbishment of the community centre.
The centre is an important local community hub that provides a venue for a wide range of activities and events, including day/evening classes, public meetings, private functions and a crèche facility. However, renovation work was badly needed. The wooden building was rotten, it leaked badly and it was poorly insulated, so it was cold in the winter months and expensive to heat.
SBS has always had a strong ethos of supporting community regeneration and it readily agreed to install external wall insulation and a weatherproof decorative finish, completely free of charge. This - together with an associated re-roofing scheme - made the building watertight, enabling other partners to conduct valuable improvements inside.
The scheme as a whole delivered substantial improvements to the building's fabric and facilities. Besides the insulation and new roof, these included:
- New energy efficient glazing and doors
- A new external canopy
- A new secure entry system
- New flooring
- New lighting systems
- New WCs / washroom
- Internal plastering and redecoration
- A new ICT suite
- New landscaping
In all, the centre has benefited from more than £55,000 worth of improvements, including the external wall insulation system, which was designed and supplied by PermaRock Products. The effect will be a substantial improvement in thermal efficiency and it will enable significant savings to be made in energy bills. The work will also provide an important aesthetic enhancement.
Throughout the framework, SBS and supply chain partners have made strenuous efforts to provide training and employment opportunities for local people. NCH itself has also worked with local projects and social enterprises to ensure that work delivers maximum social benefits. For example, the internal painting and decorating work at the centre was delivered with the support of NCH's Women in Construction programme, which supports and encourages women to pursue careers in the building industry.
Jonathan Shaw, Director of Investment and Business Services at Nottingham City Homes, said: "The Sheila Roper Centre provides a number of highly valued services to the local community, particularly families and elderly residents. We have been overwhelmed with the generosity of our partner contractors, who have not just donated time, but materials to enable the level of work that has already taken place to be completed."
The building was named after Sheila Roper, a local resident who devoted much of her time to running the centre. The role of caretaker has since passed to another local, Angela Stanton, who expressed her delight at the work that has been carried out. She said: "Before, it was just a wooden building, and the wood was rotten, so every time it rained hard we knew it would leak. The whole place was just really dull, cold and damp, and not ideal for the community. But it’s on people’s doorsteps, so I wanted it to be so much better for everyone. I never imagined we’d get something like this done.
"After Sheila passed away, it was so important to me and other members of the local community that this centre kept going and continued to provide the opportunities it does for our neighborhood. But it has been a really big challenge for us. The building … had really started to look shabby in recent years, as there hadn’t been the money to invest in it. I’m so grateful to everyone that has helped. We make a real difference here, and I hope with everyone’s help, we can continue to do so for years to come."
NCH project liaison officer Christian Liquorish was equally pleased at the extent of support the scheme has received. He said: "It started off as a plan to just use funding from our Anniversary Fund to make sure the building was insulated. But it just snowballed from there. Before long we were installing new windows and doors, replacing the roof, plastering and tidying up the walls inside, redecorating, installing new lighting, floors and toilets – the list goes on.
"It seemed the more we did, the more work was offered by our fantastic contractors. It’s been a phenomenal collaborative effort and I’m so proud of the whole team for what we’ve achieved here. The community now has a fantastic facility that’s warm, cheaper to run, looking brand new and fully equipped for all the groups of people who want to use it."
Local councillors for Wollaton East and Lenton Abbey, Sam Webster and Sally Longford said: "We’re delighted to see improvements being made to the Sheila Roper Community Centre; it's such an important space for the Lenton Abbey community. The significant internal and external improvements will certainly boost the usage of centre."
In addition to working on the Sheila Roper Community Centre, SBS provided many other forms of local support. It recruited resident liaison officers from the local communities, it used local suppliers and labour in the delivery of the scheme itself, and it supported a number of new apprenticeships. It also refurbished a vacant property to use as a show home (to demonstrate the external wall insulation systems) as a venue for community meetings and as a refuge for local residents to use while work was taking place at their own homes.
"We're very proud of all that we've achieved on this scheme for NCH," said Group Commercial Director, Gary Lawson. "We've worked hard to ensure that the local community has benefited wherever possible and I'm delighted that we've played such a key role in transforming the Sheila Roper Community Centre. But more than that, our commitment to quality has earned us a place in a major government report, where this NCH scheme has been held up as an example of industry best practice. We can be very proud of our record and of the fact that thousands of households now enjoy greatly improved living conditions."