Charlie Mullins: “Nothing good ever came out of a council estate”

I have experienced this kind of poverty first hand, as I grew up with a working class background myself, on a South London council estate. Things were very tough then, and my visit to Warrington has made me realise that things haven’t moved on in 30 years. My visit proved to me that if anything, things have got even worse.

The Warrington estate was disgusting. It is plagued by crime and drugs. There were people drinking on the street and unemployment was rife, with most of the people there having no work, or prospects of work. There is basically no future for so many of them, and that was very upsetting to see.

People on the estate had nothing to do, no facilities, not even an area to kick a ball about safely. They really are the forgotten people, who are put on an estate and left to rot, and this is happening all over the country.

They are forgotten by the government and wider society and I’m telling you now – nothing good ever came out of a council estate. There may be the odd person who does well for themselves and escapes their life there, but council estates remain one of the worst things to ever have been created.

The quicker we get rid of them the better and start treating people like human beings. They need to be looked after, put in proper houses, given proper facilities and job prospects so they have a future.

In this country we are throwing huge amounts of money on things and people outside of the UK – wouldn’t that cash be better spent helping the people here first? We should be looking after our people and working to treat everyone fairly, to make it a level playing field.

Lots of us are spoilt and can forget how tough others may be finding it, but I’ll tell you one thing, spending time on an estate will soon put your feet back on the ground.

I went on the programme to prove to myself that I could do it. It was an emotional journey for me, there’s no question of that. I stayed there for eight days and thought about walking away many times, as it was so hard. But if I’d done that I would never have been able to live with myself.

Pimlico, like so many other companies, regularly contributes a few quid to charity, but they also need people who can give their time, skills and support and who can listen. This experience reminded me of how fortunate I am, but also how greedy and self absorbed I had become. I’m so pleased I did the programme and we continue to stay in touch with all three charities.  

The best thing to come out of all this is that some very deserving charities have finally got the recognition and support they deserve. The charities really are the stars here.  I’m now a patron for two out of the three charities and we’re going to continue to support them with ongoing projects and our time and expertise.

Charlie Mullins launched Pimlico Plumbers in 1979 with just a bag of tools and a very old van bought at auction. It now has over 133 professional plumbers and a support team of around 35 staff, with a turnover of more than £15m.

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