As a consultancy based organisation, we understand current issues faced in today’s society and we strive for change. We recognise the number of construction companies in the UK who contribute to society, but this is not enough to make a true difference across the construction industry and for future generations. Our partnerships will help larger construction companies engage and offering employment to younger generations who are saturated in crime and gang cultures.
Our Co-founder Louchavan Lemard has experienced deprivation and a destructive lifestyle from a young age and understands how quickly younger generations can fall into gangs, how easy it is to be pushed into crime and drugs and how hard it is to leave such a destructive lifestyle. These issues are something we know so well and that’s why we are actively working towards empowering younger generations to achieve their ambitions. Our co-founder is one of many who's kitchen floor was his bed, who had to sleep in a storage cupboard during winter months, who couldn't afford nice clothes at school, who's education suffered because of the stress this inflicted, who couldn't eat three meals a day because his family couldn’t afford food. He was bullied and pushed into participating in gang cultures and was pushed to do things he shouldn’t, just so he could be accepted within that culture.
And how was he supported? He wasn’t, Louchavan was labelled as a disruptive and challenging student but behind his behaviour was a teenager who was struggling to deal with the issues he faced outside of school.
Louchavan was able to break through this lifestyle and was fortunate enough to be given a second chance. However, these second chances are scarce, with opportunities being given to the academically advanced and employers being accepted in society for making choices that are easiest for them.
As an organisation, we work closely with construction companies to seek those most in need of apprenticeships and employment opportunities, giving teenagers the choice to break away from destructive lifestyles. Our Apprentice, Warise is a prime example of this – his friend was stabbed in front of him and died at the age of 15, he thought he was next. This was, until Think Big Academy gave him the opportunity to work which other employers didn’t.
Our experience defines us. It drives us away from this acceptance and motivates us to do better. Our vision is simple – to provide opportunity and hope to those who have experienced deprived and destructive backgrounds and to support them in achieving their goals. To help them become a part of the community again and to up-skill them within the construction industry. To reduce crime and anti-social behaviour by providing the right support streams to help them break away from these lifestyles and flourish within a multi-trade environment. Together we can promise a better future for younger generations. It’s time to make a change. It’s time to make our vision a reality – it’s time to Think Big.
RYAN JEFFERS - DIRECTOR
I grew up in a broken home and I was raised by my mother who was a single parent. I faced challenges which could have isolated me from society. My parents broke up when I was 4 years old and their was constant arguments, which myself and my younger brother witnessed daily. I didn’t see my mum much as she was working over 50 hours a week to pay all the bills to ensure we remained in the house we lived in.
I was quiet and had behaviour problems at school, this was due to the suffering I was experiencing at home. I felt I couldn’t relate or talk to anybody about how I was feeling. This made me isolated and an angry child. I struggled to make friends and had a very low self-esteem, as I was deprived of having the love and care I required from my parents. My mother is a successful Senior university lecturer and always pushed me academically to study hard, as my grades were above average. People judged that I hadn’t any issues because of my grades. My father was a reputable property developer who worked most days and didn’t give me the support I needed growing up.
The only way I could get out of the environment I was in, was to study hard and to get a professional job. I was inspired by the TV show ‘The Apprentice’ with Sir Alan Sugar and from there, I always knew I wanted to be in a position of a big responsibility within a business. My dad declared bankruptcy during the 2008 recession. He lost everything, and his mental health suffered drastically. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychosis. While I was studying for my A Levels and working my part-time job, I was the main support for my family, who were traumatised by my dad’s behaviour as he was mentally unwell. I was also there to support my dad, which was difficult as a young adult at the time.
Once I received my A Level results, my dad was sectioned and was put in hospital. This still hurts me today as my relationship has been affected. I went to university to study Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management, I was grateful to have the opportunity as I was rejected by many universities across the country. I wasn’t the best student academically, but I always gave the best account of myself during every assignment. In my final year I lost all my work on my hard drive and was close to not passing my degree but yet again I prevailed over my obstacle.
I was unemployed for 8 months after I graduated and moved back to Nottingham where I had a mental breakdown from all the issues I’ve had to deal with, to get to this point. I received counselling which got me back on my feet and I managed to get my first graduate job after 100’s of rejections. Since then I have gone on to manage multi million pound projects in new builds, highways, refurbishments and railway projects. The goals I set myself when I was a young adult had been achieved, but I felt I had to help others to achieve their goals and ambitions. Hence, the formation of Think Big Academy.
LEMARD - DIRECTOR
I was raised from a broken home on benefits and low income with my mum and two younger brothers. My mum suffered from mental health from when I was a baby due to the abuse my mother had experienced as a child. This had a negative impact on my early years of development because my mother wasn’t able to give me the emotional attention I required. This along with living in depravation and being exposed to anti-social behaviour and peer pressure without a male figure in my life was very challenging.
My life hit rock bottom when my housing situation changed. We had to move house because our 2-bedroom maisonette wasn’t big enough for my mum, me and two brothers so we had to move. Due to the fact that my mum was a single parent on benefits and low income with minimal confidence was exploited and given a property that wasn’t habitable. This action forced me and my family to live in a one bedroom flat. My mum did what she could to decorate the property with no help or support. This caused me to sleep on the kitchen floor in the summer months and a cupboard on the floor in the winter months just to keep warm from the ages of 10 – 15 years old. These conditions were more suitable then the house we were given.
At the age of 16 I left full time education with no qualifications and self-belief. Going to a school in an affluent area and living in a deprived area always made me feel excluded and worthless in both environments. I just wanted to fit in and conform. Due to all of the variables around me made this process impossible. Outside of school I was heavily involved in the gang culture and anti-social behaviour. When my 2nd friend had been killed and a 4th had gone to prison for murder I just wanted a way out. I was fed up of being exploited by older individuals and being fearful of getting killed myself.
In the summer of 2007, I decided to leave the council estate and live in the county with my grandparents to start again. I know the only way do turn my life around was to educate myself. I enrolled on a level one plumbing course on September 2007 which required me to have no GCSE’S. I successfully passed the course and for the first time I was told the words you have “PASSED”. I have been chasing that word ever since.
I then decided that I wanted to further my education by obtaining an apprenticeship in Plumbing the only issue was that I still didn’t have the relevant qualifications however, me being me I applied anyway to over 100 companies. After 6 months of applying to companies and being told continuously that I didn’t have the academic ability to successfully complete an apprenticeship. I decided to be creative so, I took out my own public liability insurance and asked to work for free under work experience just to gain some on site experience. Any faults caused I would claim from my own insurance and the answer was still NO! At this point in my life I was mentally drained and about to give up. I then decided to give it one more try. I decided to lie about my GCSE results and where I was raised just so that I wasn’t discriminated against. After those adjustments I was awarded a 4 year apprenticeship with the opportunity in progressing onto a FE level 4 qualification.
Since then I went onto successfully passing a level 2 apprenticeship in plumbing and heating. I was nominated for East Midlands Apprentice of the year 2010 and the winner for Apprentice of the year for 2010. I then progressed onto and successfully passed a level 3 apprenticeship in plumbing, heating and gas which gave me the chance to become a domestic gas safe engineer. I was then the winner for Apprentice of the year for 2012. I went onto becoming gas a commercial gas safe engineer. I then progressed on to a HNC in building services which is a level 4/5 qualification which I graduated with a distinction. This gave me the opportunity to become a project manager in control of multi-million pound contracts which I successfully designed project managed, commissioned and handed over to the client on time without any penalty charges to the company. I did this all within 10 years.
I am now the co-founder of Think Big Academy which is a not for profit organisation which recruits on attitude and NOT academic’s in providing apprenticeships to young adults wanting to enter the construction industry. My life’s purpose is to serve, motivate and present opportunities to those who want it. The real question is if I didn’t lie about my qualifications and where I was raised would I be where I am today. I wonder how many young people have been through what I’ve gone through and not ended in a success story.