CRASH – enabling the construction industry to rebuild vulnerable lives

It was the sight of rough sleepers in London on a cold November day in 1991 that initially planted a seed in the mind of the late Tony Denison, then a well-known figure in the construction industry.

Moved by their plight that night and determined to make a difference, he went on to fit out two winter shelters in London with materials supplied by his contacts in the industry and came up with the idea of CRASH.

Today, CRASH, a Scheme Supporter, continues to support homelessness charities and hospices with life-changing building projects. It does this by sourcing pro-bono professional expertise and building materials and awarding cash grants donated by the construction and property industries. Consequently, CRASH has been able to help thousands of the most vulnerable people in society by transforming buildings to meet their needs. A number of the homelessness charities supported by CRASH are also able to provide employment-based services to their service users.

Giving back

Aside from the genuine desire to give something back, what are the benefits to being a CRASH Patron? For many Patrons, helping a local homelessness charity or hospice with their building project is simply a fantastic opportunity to leave a community with a positive and lasting impression of the construction industry – but there are other advantages as well.

Working on a project with the charity also enables companies to better meet the criteria on the Monitor’s Checklist – by allowing Patrons to provide strong, tangible examples of their community engagement during a project. Indeed, question 2.3 of the Checklist under ‘Respect the Community’ asks: ‘Is the site contributing to and supporting the local community and businesses?’ Other questions on the Checklist direct the Monitor to examine the lasting impression of the industry left on the community and to look at how local employment opportunities were promoted.

What’s more, all due diligence is undertaken by CRASH so companies can be sure they are investing in a well-run, stable charity. They can also enjoy the benefits of working collaboratively with other CRASH Patrons and receive recognition from their industry peers.

VolkerFitzpatrick, a Scheme Partner, is also a Patron. Along with lending their skills to refurbish Spitalfields Crypt Trust’s Recovery Hub for homeless people in London, two members of staff organised a charity golf day – involving their industrial training placement colleagues in the process. Likewise, employees from Scheme Partner and CRASH Patron BAM Construction took paid leave to help paint windows and doors at the Pilsdon Community, a working farm and refuge for people at a time of crisis in Dorset.


I have had the opportunity to travel across the country and help some fantastic charities

Guy Norton
Associate at Arcadis

CRASH creates case studies on every project, to be used in tenders, bids and communications. These are shared on its website and social media channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn. It also produces a Social Value report which highlights each company’s involvement in a project and the commercial value of their support.


Equally, employees involved in a CRASH project can see it as an opportunity to develop personal and professional skills – which they can deploy when working on future projects for the company. It can also boost motivation and staff satisfaction, leading to an increase in staff retention.

Guy Norton, an associate at Arcadis, said: “My work with CRASH has allowed me to do something completely different to my day job. I have had the opportunity to travel across the country and help some fantastic charities who make a real difference in the communities they work in. The role has helped me develop existing and new skills and encouraged me to refresh areas of construction and technical knowledge I’ve not used for some time. I have also expanded my professional network and recognition within the company, which is a great benefit for career progression.’’

How the Scheme supports CRASH

CRASH’s Chief Executive, Francesca Roberts, was a presenter at this year’s prestigious National Site Awards, giving her access to leading decision-makers in the industry and an opportunity to raise the charity’s profile. Asked how they would sum up their experience of the Scheme, Becky Holt, Marketing and Communications Manager for CRASH said: “We are grateful for all the Scheme’s support which helps CRASH continue to make a lasting difference to the lives of people who are homeless and men, women and children receiving end-of-life care in a hospice. Partnering with the Scheme helps introduce CRASH to companies who are committed to helping improve our industry by contributing and investing in the local community.”

The Scheme also promotes CRASH on its Best Practice Hub and at its Image of Construction event.


A charity’s perspective

Gordon Moore, Chief Executive of Blyth Star Enterprises, which provides services to people living with enduring mental ill health and learning disabilities in the north-east said: ‘‘I have worked with many charities and organisations over the past 40 years, but none quite like CRASH. The idea behind CRASH, the industry involvement and the practical organisation works well.’’

Getting involved

Only companies which are Patrons can work on CRASH projects. CRASH will discuss projects with Patrons or they can take the initiative themselves if they wish but there is no obligation to get involved. CRASH also offers flexible partnerships which complement the particular Patron’s priorities.

To find out how you too can support your industry charity CRASH, please contact 0208 742 0717 or email Kate Marsh on CRASH is your industry charity, be proud to be part of it.