Cladding industry gets behind BBC’s DIY SOS project for the Getaway Girls charity

Two of the biggest names in the UK façades industry – EQUITONE and Vivalda – have joined forces to support a unique refuge for young women in Leeds. Featured recently by the BBC’s DIY SOS show, the project harnessed the goodwill of the UK construction sector to create a purpose-built centre for the Getaway Girls charity based in Seacroft, Leeds.

Established in the area for more than 35 years, the charity empowers young women between the ages of 11 and 25 in one of the city’s more deprived areas. Among the hundreds of volunteers and supporters who were involved in the nine day build, fibre cement façade brand EQUITONE and the UK’s largest distributor of rainscreen cladding Vivalda were front and centre of the project.

Craig Matson, regional director at Vivalda, said: “Given the fact that this new project was for such a worthy cause, our London branch jumped at the chance to work with the team at EQUITONE to provide an attractive and hardwearing façade for the building. Utilising our in-house design software, CNC routers and panel saws to ensure the job was to exacting specifications. We also used our own logistics fleet to make sure the cut-to-size EQUITONE panels were delivered to site in Seacroft within a demanding time frame.”

“Attending the big reveal of the project, which involved Children in Need, Nick Knowles and his team and BBC Radio 2 legends Zoe Ball and Scott Mills, showed the building trade at its very best – full of support and a positive, ‘can do’ attitude! It was great to see the finished structure looking so good. The Getaway Girls is such a valuable charity and we’re delighted to have done our bit to support them.”

Mike Lee, EQUITONE specification manager, added: “Community and sustainability are very important to our business, so we didn’t need to think twice when we were asked to support this great project. Our range of façade products are very popular with schools, colleges and universities, so the use of our [natura] cladding for the Getaway Girls’ centre was an obvious choice.”

The new building is intended to act as a safe space for those who the charity supports, including facilities such as a crèche, counselling rooms, activity spaces, and a garden. It is clad in 8mm thick EQUITONE [natura] fibre cement panels in chalk grey. In total, the new building uses 120m2 of cut-to-size cladding, all of which have been rivet fixed.

Charity director Flavia Docherty said: “We are thrilled to have been given this amazing opportunity and couldn’t be more excited for the future of the charity. The new space will provide the chance for us to support even more girls from across the city, and make a positive difference in their lives.

“We are so grateful to the whole DIY SOS team, Radio 2 and their presenters and, of course, BBC Children in Need for supporting us for 12 years – without their funding we wouldn’t have been able to continue our work for this long and have the impact that we have done for girls and young women in Leeds over the years.”

The episode covering the Getaway Girls’ project was broadcast on Wednesday November 16, 2022 as part of BBC Children in Need.