What a week we had at Open Doors 2017.
In my role as Partnerships Manager for London at CITB I get to take part in lots of exciting projects, including this national week-long event going behind the scenes of some of the UK’s biggest and most exciting projects.
This year we saw over 200 sites open their doors, and over 5000 people book in visits to see what really goes on behind all the site hoardings and machinery. This event lets you have unprecedented access to construction projects that the public generally don’t get the chance to see until they’re completed.
We work in partnership with Build UK to put on this event, and to make sure that we let as many people know about the incredible sites available, so we contacted schools, colleges, Job Centre Plus sites and others across the UK.
The footballer, theatre and apprentice
We got this year’s campaign got off to a flying start with a launch event at the historic Alexandra Palace in London. This project is bringing back the incredible splendour of this Victorian theatre that hasn’t been seen for decades! It was great to welcome ex-footballer and ‘I’m a Celeb’ contestant, Jimmy Bullard, to launch the campaign before being shown round the site by the Willmott Dixon team – he even got to show off his own bricklaying skills, which were quite impressive! He also got to spend some time with Technician Apprentice Harry Pearce, hearing about his amazing family history with the palace. He’s a third-generation builder, and both his father and grandfather worked as builders at different times on the building. He said ‘It runs in the family and that’s why construction will always have a place in my heart’.
The following day I supported a visit by the Deputy Mayor of London for Housing to Berkeley Group’s site at Royal Arsenal Riverside. In my role, I work closely with the Greater London Authority (GLA) so it was great to show the Deputy Mayor what it’s like to work on a housing site and discuss how we can collaborate in the future. We also had many MPs, MSPs and Welsh Assembly members attend various sites throughout the week, and it’s great to see so many in politics be interested in promoting construction and all the careers it can offer.
It’s not just bricks!
As well as getting to see heritage and housing projects this week, I also got the chance to go and see some of the other major employers that I work with on a day-to-day basis, including Lend Lease’s International Quarter, located next to the 2012 Olympic Park, and a Kier site in Greenwich. It was great to go and see the fantastic work going on, and to see how we can work more collaboratively in the future.
My final visit on Saturday was to Bouygues’ Triangle Project in Cambridge. My husband often asks me about my job, so I thought Open Doors would be a great opportunity for him to come along and find out for himself. And sure enough, just like most of the other visitors I’d seen that week, he was amazed. For me, that’s what Open Doors is all about!
Putting together an event like this takes a lot of work, and a lot of people working behind the scenes to make it all happen. So I’d like to say a huge thank you to Build UK, CITB, all of the employers and sites who opened their doors to us, and to everyone who attended. It wouldn’t have been possible without you all – and now I can’t wait for Open Doors 2018!