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Helping to create 'A Welcome Home'

16 May 2017

Helping to create ‘A Welcome Home’

Students from the John Madejski Academy (JMA) in Whitley built a life size house out of giant plastic bricks on Wednesday 10 May as part of the first Whitley for Real* initiative.

Funded by Reading UKCIC and with support from Bewley Homes, the Whitley Researchers and academics from the University’s Participation Lab, the project focused on young people’s attitudes to what makes a welcome home in Whitley and highlighted the wealth of capabilities and capacities of young people in Whitley.

The home building project saw a team of six JMA students ranging in age between 13 and 17, plan and construct their concept of ‘a welcome home’ out of 1500 oversized plastic bricks within a six hour timeframe.  One of many local businesses involved, Bewley Homes was on hand to offer planning and construction advice.

Laura Ellener, Principal of JMA, said:  “To give our students at JMA the opportunity to be involved in such an exciting community related project has allowed them to learn valuable team building and leadership skills and supports us in continuing our journey of improvement.”

Steve O’Grady, Head of Technical for Bewley Homes, added:  “This is a fantastic opportunity to engage young minds on an interactive task in which they are required to use and develop essential core transferable skills including teambuilding, planning, negotiation, strategy and process.

“It was amazing to see how these skills developed and improved throughout the course of the day and the sense of pride and accomplishment which all the students felt by the completion of the task.

“Giving back to the local communities in which we live and work is central to our ethos at Bewley Homes and we were delighted to be able to assist in this project.”

Dr Sally Lloyd-Evans of the University of Reading’s Participation Lab said:  “Co-designing this home-building process with students was a great way of exploring and understanding how they view the world and their future lives.  The event showed how engaging the community in a creative research process can be just as meaningful as what is produced at the end.  It was inspiring and educational for us all.”

John Ord, Big Local Representative, said:  “We wanted to start our research journey with young people at the same point where our journey through life begins – at home.  It’s our origin and creation, so why not celebrate and affirm it in a most practical way – build it!”

Bewley Homes is currently constructing 175 properties at its Reading Gateway site which will comprise a selection of homes including 1 and 2 bedroom apartments and 3 and 4 bedroom houses.

*Whitley for Real is a partnership between Reading Borough Council, JMA, Reading Girls School, the Whitley Researchers, the Whitley Community Development Association (WCDA), Whitley Big Local, the University of Reading’s Participation Lab, Reading UKCIC and a range of stakeholders including Bewley Homes, Whitley Excellent Cluster (WEC) primary schools and the community.