Paul was heading up to the roof of his site on Tottenham Court Road when he spotted a light in the distance. It was a local soup kitchen, and it was to open his eyes to homelessness in London.
It was in the lead-up to Christmas when Paul went up to the roof of his Health Services Laboratories (HSL) project to complete a health and safety check. He saw the American International Church on the streets beneath him, and the lights of its soup kitchen shining brightly, as it served hot meals to the local homeless community.
It was a cause he was set on getting behind. After a brief conversation with The Soup Kitchen’s director, an outreach programme was born, with the ISG team volunteering to serve food, donate warm clothes for the cold winter months, and build a storage shed to provide enough space to cater for ever-growing demand. It’s just one of the initiatives to stem from the HSL project, where ISG is creating a state-of-the-art pathology lab to give HSL the facilities it needs to take its pioneering medical research into the future – all in a live environment.
From futuristic healthcare environments to giving back to the local community, for Paul the experience has altered his perspective: “It’s been truly humbling,” he says. “It’s made me realise just how lucky I am.”
Someone becomes homeless in London nearly every two hours.
A scary statistic to comprehend, especially in the harsh UK winter. For Paul Sharp, divisional director at ISG, giving something back to those in need has always been close to his heart – and it’s something he encourages on all his project sites. This drive to help others is what led Paul to The Soup Kitchen, a local charity on Tottenham Court Road in London, UK, and to play a part in changing the lives of the local homeless community.
During his routine health and safety walkaround on ISG’s Health Services Laboratories (HSL) site, Paul’s eye was drawn to a light in the distance. It was the lights of The Soup Kitchen, a charity located close to the HSL site in Fitzrovia where ISG’s science and health team is refurbishing HSL’s latest pathology facility. The Soup Kitchen offers hot meals and a warm, friendly environment, providing a sense of ‘home’ to the homeless on the streets of London.
Inspired by their passion for community initiatives, Paul and senior project managers, Scott Powley and Jack Pitt, approached the kitchen to offer support. Jack explains: “We volunteered to offer a helping hand to the busy lunchtime shifts, preparing, cooking and serving food, and also spent time getting to know visitors. We’ve been working for a number of years in central London and rarely stop and get the chance to understand the lives of those in our community.”
An outreach programme was born, with the project team and supply chain designing and building a storage shed for equipment, enabling it to cater for ever-growing demand. The team also ran initiatives to collect warm clothes to donate for distribution during the cold winter months. Looking ahead, the team will now install a new storage area for food donations that will help free up more space in the shelter.
For Jack, the team’s efforts show what can be achieved by working together. “We have built something truly special through the collaboration of all teams on site working together to help The Soup Kitchen, ensuring the local community benefits from our involvement in the HSL project,” he says. “Having met the amazing people running The Soup Kitchen and engaged with the local community, we are very humbled to be involved and looking for further ways we can support their cause.”
The value ISG offers is about more than projects, adds Paul: “I’m proud of our team and the supply chain for breathing life into our value to ‘Always care’. The kitchen does amazing work supporting vulnerable people, and I enjoyed volunteering with the team there. It’s a real eye-opener to the harsh realities of life, and a reminder of how important it is for us to use our presence on projects to benefit the communities where we work.”
Working closely with Alexander Brown, director of The Soup Kitchen, ISG developed a strong relationship with the team that runs the kitchen. “We are so thankful to have the support of Paul, Jack and the entire team,” he says. “They not only donated time and money but expertise, helping us get several building projects completed which will help us better serve our homeless friends. We definitely consider ISG part of the team and we’re proud of our partnership together.”
While initiatives like The Soup Kitchen are a big focus for Paul, the HSL project was a huge challenge. The team is creating a state-of-the-art pathology laboratory to give HSL the facilities it needs to take its pioneering medical research into the future – all in a critical live environment.
“We organised to volunteer at The Soup Kitchen while delivering the most logistically and technically challenging project the team’s ever done,” Paul explains. “Putting this challenge into perspective – this is all while working in an operationally live laboratory environment, and using a complex temporary services strategy to keep critical services live and ensure vital samples are not lost during testing.”
With such a complex scheme in central London, close collaboration with HSL, medical professionals and neighbouring projects was critical in overcoming access restrictions and keeping operations live, explains Paul: ‘’Collaboration with the team facilitated the implementation of a complex phasing strategy, as well as crucial end-user engagement and understanding of client operations needed to prepare areas for critical moves.’’
The next phase will see the delivery of one new laboratory, before completion of all remaining areas, and all the while, The Soup Kitchen outreach programme will continue as the team carries on supporting the local community.
From overseeing the future of healthcare to caring for the homeless, Paul and his team’s commitment to helping the community will live on and make a difference to the lives of all involved with The Soup Kitchen. “It’s been truly humbling,” he says. “It’s made me realise just how lucky I am.”