Fifth Trust News

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Work starts on skills centre

24 February 2021


The Fifth Trust is celebrating the start of a full-scale redevelopment of one of our skills centres following a massive fundraising campaign.

We have secured over £1.5 million in grants and donations from members of the public, companies and other charitable bodies, including the National Lottery, to transform the site in Barham, near Canterbury.

While fundraising continues to cover all costs, we have now begun the construction of three new buildings to replace the existing huts which have reached the end of their useful life. The linked buildings offer flexible space specially designed to give all students easy access to classes and other activities. The redevelopment will allow us to increase student capacity by 20%.

“Getting to this stage is an incredible achievement, and I would like to thank all the organisations and individuals whose support has made the redevelopment a reality,” said The Fifth Trust CEO Nikki Marley.

Nikki is pictured breaking the ground for the building works, which will be carried out by local construction company Breem under the project management of Canterbury-based Betteridge & Milsom (B&M).

Suzanne O’Brien, Chair of The Fifth Trust’s Board of Trustees, commented: This is the culmination of five years of planning and determination to give our students and staff the modern, accessible amenities they deserve. The new skills centre supports our vision of sustaining excellent services so our students achieve their full potential.”

Once completed early next year, the new skills centre will enable us to support at least 180 students every week on our two sites in the Elham Valley as well as to create new services for learning disabled adults with profound physical conditions and a life skills programme for students preparing to live independently.

Students also attend the skills centre at our Vineyard site in Barham, and work alongside staff at our social enterprises – a garden centre and café.

If you would like to support the fundraising campaign, please find our how to donate here.