English & French
ENGLISH AND FRENCH ON SAME SIDE AT LIVERPOOL HOUSING CHARITY
STAFF and volunteers on a Liverpool building site have agreed to put footballing rivalries aside in the interest of getting the job done.
Housing charity Liverpool Habitat for Humanity has experienced an influx of French intern students this summer.
Eight French students are due to spend time working at the Granby-Toxteth site this summer, the first four of whom arrived just in time for the start of the Euro 2012 football tournament in Poland and Ukraine, where England and France are pitched in the same group.
Work stopped early yesterday as Habitat supporters from both countries got ready to cheer their home nations in a match that eventually ended in a 1-1 draw.
Football apart, the French students are all hoping to find the winning formula at Liverpool Habitat for Humanity that will give them a competitive edge in their future careers.
They include 20 year old Axel Vincendeau, a student at La Rochelle Business School, who said: "I chose LHFH for my volunteer internship because I want to help people to have the opportunity to have a decent place to live, this seems very important to me. It also gives me the opportunity to meet new people and experience a different culture and is opening my mind to a new and challenging situation. After my studies I would like to work abroad in business negotiation and human resources."
Guillaume Lago, 22, also studying at Rochelle is in the UK for three months and wants to gain experience in the building trade. "After my studies I hope to work for a large organisation in France in supply chain management," he said.
During their time in Liverpool the students will help out with physical labour on site as well as administrative tasks, including marketing and helping to co-ordinate other volunteers.
Hugues Dupree, 20, says he hopes to improve his English so he can work abroad in marketing after graduating. And 21-year-old Celine Le Diowwh, who wants to work in communications for an international firm, said: "I chose to work for LHFH for the next three months because I share the values of the organisation and want to help people have an easier life."
LHFH is partway through building 32 low-cost homes on land off Kingsley Road that was donated by the Roman Catholic church.
Liza Parry, executive director for LHFH, said: "We get thousands of volunteers from all over the world coming to Liverpool to work at Habitat for Humanity; at the last count we'd had more than 10,000 volunteers from over 60 different countries. People come as individuals, as part of a community, interest or faith group, or as part of company team-builds. We get a lot of students from UK universities and colleges and from overseas.
"Every one of our volunteers makes a valuable contribution to our mission to provide low-cost homes for people who couldn't ordinarily afford to own a home of their own. But because they'll be with us for several weeks, or months, the skills and experience of the French interns will be particularly valuable – whatever the end result in the football!"
Central to LHFH's operation is the fact that future home owners can spend 500 hours physically helping to build their home – known as 'sweat equity' – in lieu of a £10,000 down-payment, thereby reducing the cost of home ownership. They work alongside other volunteers to help build the homes.
The charity has recently forged a new partnership with Cosmopolitan Housing Association in Liverpool, which will help fund the remaining 23 homes.
Following deduction of the £10,000 'sweat equity', eligible home partners have a choice of obtaining a mortgage to purchase one of the homes outright or taking out a shared equity mortgage to own a minimum of 50% of the property and then pay rent to Cosmopolitan on the remaining share. They can buy further shares in the property over time until they own their home in full.
As well as volunteer labour, LHFH also relies on donations of cash, materials, services and gifts in kind to enable it to keep building costs down. For more information go to www.liverpoolhfh.org.uk.