For the past few years church member Keith Simpson has been driving forward his vision for sustainable communities as a means of addressing the joint problems in the UK of unemployment and housing shortage.  Keith has been sharing his vision with Council leaders and partner organisations around the country and many have caught his enthusiasm.  The vision involves:

  • Housing built by young people who might otherwise struggle to find work
  • Environment-friendly design and materials ensure low energy bills
  • Layout of the housing to foster integrated communities

The housing scheme addresses the need for opportunities during an economic downturn in the construction industry and the rising cost of energy bills. More details of the vision are at:


November 2014: Keith describes how the Building Better Lives idea can help rehabilitate offenders:

                                “BREAKING THE CYCLE” – Building Better Lives Prison Initiative

With re-offending rates of 65/70% and the prison population exploding, society needs to find innovative solutions in to address the huge cost to the public purse of keeping people in prison with little or no incentives in place to stop them re-offending. 

The Building Better Lives (BBL) project was initially created to address the chronic shortage of good quality affordable housing and the fact that one million young people are unemployed with little chance of being playing a constructive part in society.  This is a potential time bomb!!  By using the Beattiepassive Build System and our specially constructed training courses, it is possible to get people engaged in the manufacturing and construction process of house building with just a few days of training.  This, aligned with the fact that the set-up costs and space required are minimal, whether on site or off site manufacturing is chosen, means that we can train a new skilled workforce for a more efficient and sustainable construction sector.  Young people who not only understand how to build energy efficient houses but also understand why we have to do it!! 

Our Construction Director Steve Thompson, suggested that the model was absolutely applicable to the Prison Service where he had worked for 6 years creating and managing construction workshops inside the prisons.  Since then we have begun a working partnership with Get Training, a Registered Training Provider in Wolverhampton, who are already successfully providing gas, heating, electrical and plumbing work in the Prison Service and we have visited Springhill Prison, Aylesbury to witness the quality of their training programmes and have opened discussions with Littlehey YOI to explore possibilities. 

Having researched best practice, we have visited Oslo to meet Marianne Vollen the Head of the Norwegian Prison Service and her Principal Strategic Advisor, who are excited about our initiative and willing to share their best practice with us from the position of being the most effective prisoner rehabilitation service in the world.  We have also begun discussions with the William Wilberforce Trust to share experience and hopefully future cooperation in our joint aims of rehabilitating prisoners.

We are currently in discussions to encourage LA’s and HA’s to create development programmes close to prisons where we can create the workshops to manufacture the frames.  This will allow us to bring out the offenders on day release, increasing in frequency as they reach their discharge date, to teach them the construction process. This would ideally lead to them being permanently employed and perhaps give them temporary housing upon their release.  To date every social landlord that we have approached has been supportive of our initiative.  

STOP PRESS :- The Governor of Springhill Prison has now considering giving us the land to erect a Beattiepassive house for training purposes!!