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Article: Handsome Properties in Showhouse for Deaf Awareness Week

May 22

4 min read

We are proud to see our borrower Handsome Property featured in Showhouse this month, during Deaf Awareness Week 2024, alongside their contractor EGL who are employed on a project we are funding in Camberwell. Handsome Properties are delighted to have EGL on board as they shift the perception of builders, reducing noise pollution and clutter on site whilst helping to deliver these much needed homes in the capital.

Taken from an article in ShowHouse, May 2024.

Deaf Awareness Week: UK’s first all-deaf contractor tackles disability discrimination in the construction industry

One in eight adults of working age in the UK have hearing loss, but, on average, deaf people are four times less likely to be employed. EGL Construction is highlighting this issue during Deaf Awareness Week 2024, tackling hearing disability discrimination within the construction industry with its unique approach to hiring and also shifting the public’s perceptions of builders.

Thomas Salomone experienced workplace discrimination and bullying when he worked for a large construction firm, so set up EGL Construction in August 2019 – the UK’s first all-deaf contractor. His team of 12 employees are all deaf, ranging from those who are profoundly deaf to those with some degree of residual hearing.

Thomas Salomone, managing director of EGL Construction, said: “Deaf people typically have had to work twice as hard to prove themselves, instilling them with a strong work ethic and drive which helps them to deliver successful projects within deadlines.

Health and safety concerns are often cited as justifications for excluding deaf people in the construction industry, with employers often claiming they will be unable to obtain insurance. Problems with communication are also raised, despite the availability of sign language interpreters, and the option to communicate via text message or WhatsApp. EGL Construction tackles health and safety concerns on construction sites through the use of specialised tools like vibrating alarms. The firm also uses WhatsApp to communicate on-site to alert staff to any risks or issues. Using video relay interpreting services for calls and booking British Sign Language interpreters for meetings are other ways EGL Construction overcomes barriers to communication.

Thomas said: “Sadly, there are significantly fewer opportunities in the construction industry open to deaf workers, who are passed over in favour of hearing people. I see many benefits from having an all-deaf team of construction workers on-site, including showing strong attention to detail as deaf people are more reliant on their sight than hearing people. They tend to be more observant and more alert to potential hazards or accidents on building sites and as a result keep the site very organised and tidy.”

SME housebuilder, Handsome Property, recently employed EGL to work on a project in Camberwell, London, which is being funded by Close Brothers Property Finance. With data showing 37% of planning applications were rejected in London boroughs in 2023, cleaner, quieter sites could be a solution to changing the perception of development and housebuilding in the capital.

Gary Sollof, director of Handsome Property, believes this to be the case and said: “Reducing noise pollution and clutter on construction sites goes a long way in addressing the concerns of local residents who are worried about the impact of development in their local vicinity. This is where companies like EGL Construction are a massive benefit, they are shifting the perception of builders away from wolf-whistling, noise and mess. It is a completely different profession now and increasing diversity is key to that.

Building in an area like Camberwell comes with additional challenges such as managing hazards in a limited space and keeping noise levels down. We don’t take a cookie-cutter approach to housebuilding and sought out EGL Construction’s help on this scheme precisely because of their ability to navigate these challenges. We’re proud to be delivering high-quality homes in a way that causes as little disruption to neighbours as possible.”

“Working with Close Brothers Property Finance on this scheme has been fantastic. They came down to meet us on-site to see the team in action and have made us feel supported every step of the way. Our partnership will allow us to deliver much-needed homes in the capital.

Craig Silver, business development director at Close Brothers Property Finance, commented: “We’re extremely proud to work with SME developers like Handsome Property who share our commitment to diversity and inclusion, not only through their own business but supply chains too. EGL Construction is a testament to how disabilities like deafness should not form a barrier in the construction industry, and what can be achieved when people focus on the positives rather than the negatives.”


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