GMI Construction Group has signed up to the Care Leaver Friendly Employer Charter, launched to reduce the number of young care leavers in the Midlands not in education, employment, or training.

From its office in Birmingham, it will deliver a range of support across the region, including providing work experience placements as well as employment and skills workshops.

The charter is part of the wider Carer Leaver Covenant, a promise made by the private, public, and voluntary sectors to provide support for young people aged 16 to 25 as they move from local authority care to living independently.

The initiative has been spearheaded by Claire Preston, who was recently appointed as GMI’s Head of Responsible Business. With more than 30 years’ experience within the construction sector, she joins the company from utilities firm ENGIE, where she was Head of Social Value Strategy and Partnerships.

Previously recognised by the government for helping to set up the Care Leaver Covenant with a Sector Based Champion for Construction award, her new role is to shape and co-ordinate corporate social responsibility activities within GMI Construction Group, which includes promoting opportunities that create economic and social mobility.

The Care Leaver Friendly Employer Charter sets out nine behaviours for employers to follow to enable care leavers to thrive in the workplace. These include working with the Covenant team to promote appropriate opportunities, offering a guaranteed interview and feedback to applicants who are care experienced and who meet the criteria, and assigning a workplace buddy to offer support and guidance to care leaver employees.

Claire Preston, Head of Responsible Business at GMI Construction Group, said: “The Care Leaver Covenant is an organisation I am incredible passionate about, having been involved from day one when signing up to it back in 2018.”

“Young care leavers may have little to no resources when they are leaving the care sector, and it is important that organisations such as GMI encourage and support them to gain the necessary skills on their journey to achieving social and economic independence.”

Gareth Evans, Head of Delivery at Care Leaver Covenant, said: “We are delighted to have GMI sign up to the Care Leaver Covenant. As a large employer, with high quality work opportunities and a great network across the North of England and the Midlands, we look forward to building a close working partnership.

“Claire has already contributed significantly to the impact of the Care Leaver Covenant, and we couldn’t be more pleased that she’s now heading up our relationship with GMI.”