Latest news at CGA

Building a better future for local youths

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Jack Stileman. I am 17-years old and from Chorley. I am currently studying for a B-TEC Level 1 in Construction at PVC.

Why did you choose PVC?

Like many others, I am not the most academic of people. After leaving school I didn’t really have a real idea about what to do next. I heard about PVC through a family member, thought it sounded interesting and went along to see what it was about. The rest is history!

How have you found it so far?

I’ve really enjoyed it. The learning is very hands-on, which makes it easy to stay interested. From plastering to bricklaying and decorating, no two days are ever the same. The teachers and staff are another big reason why I’ve enjoyed it. They treat everyone as equals, and are always respectful. This has created a great environment for everyone to learn in. 

What will you take away from your time at PVC?

Well my B-TEC of course! But I’ve learnt lots of things, including how important hard work and doing something you enjoy are. I’ve become interested in plastering and have recently been staying behind after class to help plaster the PVC building as a way of giving something back.

What do your family think about you being at PVC?

They are proud. They say I have become much more positive after finding something I enjoy doing. They also say they are much less worried about my future prospects now.

So what’s next?

I think for the first time I am optimistic about the future. I graduate in the summer and then hope to start an apprenticeship at a local building company. After that, who knows, I may look at starting my own plastering business.

If you would like to learn more about the great work being done at PVC, visit their site at


Tree-mendous deal for tenants

Community Gateway, Preston’s largest social housing association, has been out and about planting trees for local residents. As part of National Tree Week and its ongoing commitment to protecting the environment, Community Gateway planted 100 trees for tenants and will continue to maintain them completely free of charge.

One person who took advantage of the offer was Kathleen Loftus from Westfield Drive, Brookfield. Having lived in the same house since 1967, Kathleen clearly understands the importance of creating a pleasant community for herself and her neighbours. She was therefore very happy to receive a beautiful ‘Sugarplum’ blossom tree from Community Gateway. Kathleen said, “I thought the offer of a free tree was a nice gesture. I can’t do as much as before, so it’s good to be able to enjoy the tree without having to plant and look after it, which I am no longer able to do.”

Rob Wakefield, CEO at Community Gateway, was on hand to present the tree to Kathleen, as well as a bouquet of flowers in recognition of her long tenancy and strong relationship with the housing association. Rob said, “It’s amazing to think that Kathleen has lived in her home for over fifty years, and I am pleased that our GreenCare Team have been supporting her in maintaining her garden for about ten years now. We are both pleased and proud to be able to plant this tree for Kathleen, and I hope it brings her much happiness.

Did you know? A tree disease called ash dieback is expected to severely affect or kill over 90% of the 80 million Ash trees in the U.K.

If you are interested in helping replenish the tree stock in our communities by planting a small tree in your Community Gateway garden, call them on 0800 953 0213 or  01772 268324, and their Greencare Team will take care of the rest.

colleagues sleep rough for charity

An intrepid team of 12 colleagues from across Community Gateway (CGA) and Preston Vocational Centre (PVC) recently braved the cold to participate in The Big Sleepout at Preston North Ends’ Deepdale stadium.

Organised by The Foxton Centre, a Preston-based charity working with local young people, the November 15th event was held to raise money for the purchase and renovation of a local house that will be used to provide a safe and secure location for Preston’s homeless. 

Participants were asked to bring only the bare essentials to the sleepover, with the event designed to provide a small insight into the many hardships surrounding local people sleeping rough.

With over 300 people taking part in the event, the team from PVC and CGA did fantastic; raising more than £3,500 for the charity so far.

Patsy Alexander, Housing Support Co-Ordinator at CGA, was one of those who bravely slept out, and said, “It was very rewarding to see so many locals from different walks of life come together to raise money and awareness about homeless issues in Preston. People have been incredibly generous in their support and we would like to thank everyone that got involved and sponsored us.” participants gather together for the BigSleepout

Tom Jones, Health, Safety and Environmental Manager at CGA, also attended the event, and said, “The whole experience was incredibly rewarding and a real eye opener for those of us that went. The cause relates very closely to what we do here at CGA and so getting involved was an easy decision for all of us.”

We need you to save the planet

Running from 23rd November to 2nd December, National Tree Week is a great opportunity for people to help improve their local and global environment.

We are looking for our tenants to get involved by helping us to find ‘homes’ for 100 trees. All trees are young and have been carefully selected to ensure they are suitable for our local gardens in terms of size and climate.

How can you help? Simply contact us and we will advise you of suitable tree types. You can choose from delicious fruit trees, such as apple and pear, beautiful flowering trees such as Cherry Blossom, and leafy ‘wildlife’ trees.

What will we do? – We will take care of everything! – From digging and planting to ongoing pruning and any other required maintenance

What do you get out of it? – Apart from the obvious beauty a new tree brings to your garden and local community, trees also help improve air quality, preserve soil and support local wildlife 

Who do I contact? – Telephone the GreenCare Team on 01772 268324, or e-mail with your address and contact details


Did you know?

Approximately 30,000 hectares of new trees are needed to be planted every year for the next 30-years to help the UK reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change – that’s roughly the size of the Isle of Wight in new trees every year!

PVC Voted ‘Small Social Enterprise of the Year’ for 2nd Year Running

Preston Vocational Centre (PVC), our charitable subsidiary, has been voted ‘Small Social Enterprise of the Year’ for the 2nd consecutive year.

Hosted by Selnet, a Lancashire-based social enterprise network, the annual ‘Enterprise in Society’ awards are held to recognise and celebrate the important work social enterprises such as PVC play in our local communities.

PVC was shortlisted for three awards – ‘Enabling Ability’, ‘Small Social Enterprise of the Year’ and ‘Lancashire Social Enterprise of the Year’

Speaking of the award, Martin Grayston, PVC Centre Manager, highlighted the dedication of his team and the wider support received from Community Gateway. He said,

“This award is a direct reflection of the professionalism and passion of the entire PVC team; all of whom work tirelessly to help every person who walks through our doors reach their full potential. Our continued success has seen us become oversubscribed in recent years, and as such we are now looking to expand and increase investment in new training and IT equipment.”selnet awards group photo

Based just outside Preston city centre, PVC provides vocational training in various construction-related areas, including carpentry, decorating and bricklaying. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, PVC has so far helped more than 6,000 local young people and adults improve their lives, with more than 50% of these coming from alternative education routes.

Claire Smith, Head of Culture and Engagement, said,

“We are very proud to support PVC in the fantastic work they do with our tenants and colleagues. This incredible achievement is clear recognition of all their hard work and is thoroughly well deserved. As our charitable subsidiary, PVC is transforming the lives of local young people and adults within the heart of our communities, and adding real value to our organisation. Everyone here at Community Gateway is  very proud of PVC’s continued success.”

To learn more about the great work Martin and the team do at PVC, visit

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