Funding Boost Helps Create Jobs for Disadvantaged Young People

A company that helps marginalised young people into work is the latest to benefit from the FSE Social Impact Accelerator (SIA), a loan scheme assisting social enterprises that are looking to grow.

Building Lives, a community interest company (C.I.C.) where young Londoners can gain qualifications and secure employment in the construction industry, has secured a £300,000 loan from the SIA which will help increase the number of training academies it operates by 50% in the next two to three years.

The company was set up by CEO Steve Rawlings in 2010, in response to his experiences working in the construction of social housing with a building company he had been running since the late 1980s. Struck by the extent of multi-generation unemployment, he took steps to tackle the issue head on.

By taking an inclusive approach Building Lives has been able to engage with the most disenfranchised young people, resulting in a demographic mix of around 40% BME, 30% homeless and 40% ex-offenders.

To maximise successful outcomes with these groups, the company takes a very hands-on approach, providing a high level of pastoral care which results in over 80% of initial starters completing their apprenticeship and of those, 86% still in employment six months later.

Steve Rawlings says: “Building lives is a social enterprise with a difference – we train for jobs, not just qualifications. This is very much at the core of what we do and we have experienced great success since we started in 2010 with the vast majority of our apprentices going into full time employment after completing the course. With this FSE loan we can increase our impact rapidly, getting even more disadvantaged young people off the streets and into employment.”

During the past four years the company has seen over 200 young people gain employment through its apprenticeships. It now aims to train and secure jobs for another 500+ individuals over the next three years. Moreover, the funding will lead to increased revenues and financial stability, resulting in an increased capacity to invest further in new academies.

Funded through initial investment from Big Society Capital and managed by The FSE Group, the FSE Social Impact Accelerator provides flexibly structured loans of between £200,000 and £1million to regulated social sector organisations.

Mark Bickford, Senior Fund Manager at The FSE Group comments: “By working closely with training providers and the construction industry, Building Lives has developed an apprenticeship programme which reflects the challenges of the sector and meets the needs of employers. Together with an effective system of pastoral support for its apprentices, Building Lives has succeeded in creating a solution to a definite problem.  With the SIA loan acting as a catalyst for expansion, we look forward to supporting Steve and the team in achieving their growth plans.”

Nick O’Donohoe, CEO of Big Society Capital, says: “The FSE Social Impact Accelerator was established to help social sector organisations scale up their activity and Big Society Capital is very happy to see another organisation doing exactly that. Building Lives already has a strong track record of training disadvantaged young people and helping them to secure jobs. The new loan means they could more than double the number of young people they have already worked with and help tackle the issue of youth unemployment.”

Jeff Dober, Head of Social Impact Funds at The FSE Group adds: “This is a great example of the power of social investment and its ability to create a virtuous circle of expanding social impact sustained by improving financial resilience”.


For more information or to apply to the FSE Social Impact Accelerator, please contact Mark Bickford, Senior Fund Manager, or visit the FSE website:



Building Lives: Cherelle Augustus,, 020 7267 1562.
The FSE Group: Tom Clarke,, 01276 608513.
Big Society Capital: David Dinnage,, 020 7186 2540.

About Building Lives

Building Lives is an award winning registered Social Enterprise and Community Interest Company founded by Steve Rawlings in 2010 that has brought former competitors from across the housing and construction sector together to build lives for Londoners. The social enterprise will soon be dominating the Construction Apprenticeship market in London by delivering 1000 apprentices a year not only helping more people into construction careers but also bridging the gap in the shortages of skilled workers in the industry.

About FSE Social Impact Accelerator

The FSE Social Impact Accelerator Loan Scheme provides flexibly-structured loan finance of between £200,000 and £1,000,000 to ambitious regulated social sector organisations, including trading arms of charities, to support expansion strategies that will deliver a step-change in an organisation’s scale of impact and financial resilience.

With a focus on cash-flow and enterprise potential, rather than historic balance sheets or hard-asset security cover, the loan scheme support enterprises and opportunities beyond the reach of traditional lending criteria. It can provide standalone funding or act as a complementary source of subordinated capital alongside conventional lender support.

About The FSE Group

The FSE Group provides tailored funding solutions and support for ambitious SMEs.  This includes direct loans and equity investments to SMEs and social enterprises that require funding to enable their growth, as well as mentoring, training and helping companies secure funding from private investors in our investor clubs.  Operating on a profit-for-purpose basis, the Group reinvests surpluses for the benefit of the communities it serves. All regulated activities are delivered through FSE Fund Managers Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The FSE Group is the umbrella brand of FSE C.I.C., a community interest company, and its subsidiaries.

About Big Society Capital

Big Society Capital is a financial institution with a social mission, set up to build the social investment market in the UK, so that charities and social enterprises can access appropriate repayable finance to enable them to grow, become more sustainable and increase their impact on society. It is doing this by building a diverse social investment market: encouraging investors to lend or invest money to achieve a social as well as a financial return.

Since it was set up as an independent organisation in 2012, Big Society Capital has committed over £165 million in investments to specialist organisations who lend to charities and social enterprises. Over five years Big Society Capital will be capitalised with approximately £600 million, from a combination of English dormant bank accounts and the four main UK high street banks.