WCoBM helps rising stars to secure employment and learn new skills

The Worshipful Company of Builders’ Merchants (WCoBM) is helping a Livery charity support ex-offenders in securing worthwhile employment and learning new skills. 

The No Going Back (NGB) charity was formed in June 2020 as a groundbreaking collaboration between Livery Companies and the Bounce Back Project to reduce re-offending rates, and has since become a standalone charity. The rehabilitation programme helps people through their journey in prison, preparing them for release and for job opportunities. 

WCoBM has been supporting NGB financially since its creation, providing an annual contribution from its charitable fund. 

Past Master Steve Turner is a Trustee of NGB and received the 2023 Master’s Award in recognition of his work with the charity.

He says: “I always think that whatever a person’s views, no one can deny the common sense of trying to break the cycle of re-offending, thereby saving the taxpayer the cost of over £40,000 per annum to keep someone in prison. 

“Everyone gains; society in general, and the individual concerned who has the chance to get their life back on track. The City has a tradition of involvement in the welfare of prisoners and NGB was initiated by the Livery movement five years ago. The WCoBM has been in the vanguard of support for NGB from day one, something that I, as a trustee of the charity, am both proud of and immensely grateful for.”

Over the past four years NGB has helped almost 2,000 participants prepare for or find work placements, including Nourdeen Al-Gharib, who was this year’s recipient of the WCoBM NGB Rising Star Award at the Company’s Awards Luncheon in March.

At the awards, Nourdeen was praised for his resilience and ambition post-release, and WCoBM caught up with Nourdeen after the event to learn more about his journey and how support from the Company and NGB has contributed to his learning, gaining new qualifications and, ultimately, a role where he can excel. 

Nourdeen first learned about the Bounce Back charity on leaving prison, when he was referred to them by his mentor who was helping him find employment. 

He says: “When I had my first interview and met my case manager, Emma George, I saw a lot of young, vibrant people, and also met Francesca (NGB’s Executive Head, Francesca Findlater OBE). It was so different from what I was expecting.”

The team helped Nourdeen secure a position with building and civil engineering company Sir Robert McAlpine, where he began working as a dryliner, having completed a Level 2 Suspended Ceilings and Wall Partitions course while in prison. 

Nourdeen says: “Since I was released I’ve also earned my City & Guilds Level 2 and another NVQ Level 2 in passive fire protection. I’ve recently completed a Site Management Safety Training Systems qualification, paid for by my current employer, which means I can be a site manager, and I’ve just started college to gain a level 5 qualification in Business Management, which I’m funding myself, so I’ve really hit the ground running. Of the nine guys who first attended the trial drylining skills taster with Bounce Back, I was the only one to complete the process.”

Although Nourdeen had no previous construction experience, he is finding his work in the construction industry very fulfilling. 

He explains: “You get a really worthwhile feeling in drylining, because you’re seeing things being created and coming to fruition from the ground up. You do get that satisfaction and pride from physically creating something – I think it’s very rewarding.”

Nourdeen is currently working on a project at Elephant and Castle and has previously worked on the Deutsche Bank in Moorgate, as well as a number of other London projects. 

But his journey since he was released hasn’t all been plain sailing, and he has had to overcome significant challenges along the way.

Initially, Nourdeen was placed with a company called FireClad, and was supported by Bounce Back, which helped Nourdeen purchase his first set of drylining tools, including a drill, pad saw, pouch and Stanley Blade. Unfortunately, FireClad subsequently went into administration, and Nourdeen was out of work for a number of months. Then, NGB was able to work with Sir Robert McAlpine and a new placement, with a partition and ceiling contractor called PlattReily, was arranged, where Nourdeen has now been working for more than two years.  

Then, earlier this year Nourdeen was in a bike accident that damaged his shoulder and left him struggling to lift the heavy plasterboards required for his work. Nevertheless, he has persevered, and is continuing to make plans for the future.

He explains: “Each year I look back and try to judge myself to see what I have achieved in that year. I want to get back to that level of entrepreneurism that I had in 2017, before I lost my business and went to prison. Ideally, once I’ve completed the multi-year management course I’m just started, I’ll have a more in-depth knowledge of the managerial responsibilities required to be a project manager and, eventually, I want to venture out on my own.”

Nourdeen is also doing what he can to give back to others who have found themselves in the same situation, working as an ambassador for the NGB initiative. Through them, he has had the opportunity to work with the Finishes Interior Sector and is now one of the board panellists of a new project called Fit Out Futures, which brings a group of panellists together every quarter to help generate a more positive image of the face of construction to the wider community. 

He concludes: “I just want to give a big thank you to Francesca and the team in helping me. When I got the Rising Star Award from WCoBM I felt like I don’t deserve it, because No Going Back has given me the blueprints to get where I am.”

You can learn more about NGB at nogoingback.uk

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Managing Director, JKW PR & Marketing Tel: 07971 968611 Email: [email protected]

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