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Build a Barn in 24 Hours – Leeds Project to Promote Careers in Construction

Build a Barn in 24 Hours  – Leeds Project to Promote Careers in Construction
15 March 2023

Women and non-binary people in West Yorkshire are being invited to help build a barn in 24 hours to promote construction careers.

As part of the first “WOW - Women of the World Festival” in Leeds to celebrate its Year of Culture status, “The WOW Barn” is a temporary events space which will be built from scratch over 24 hours in April 2023.

The search is now on to recruit 300 Barn Raisers – including professionals in construction, architecture, engineering, building and STEAM, as well as novices and DIY enthusiasts.

The project is a partnership between LEEDS 2023 and WOW, Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority [WYCA], created to break down the barriers that remain for women and girls when contemplating a career in construction.


1% of Skilled Trades Filled by Women


The 2021 Office for National Statistics census showed that only 1 per cent of skilled trades are filled by women, up just 0.7 per cent in 10 years.  However, when asked, 23 per cent of women and girls want to get involved in the construction industry.

Full training will be given at Bootcamps at Leeds College of Building culminating in a 24-hour ‘Barn Raising’ on 30 April.  

Once The WOW Barn has been built, 300 people of all genders from across West Yorkshire are invited to become Dream Builders, each creating a bespoke wooden tile, conceptualised by Artist Emma Hardaker, that will be used to decorate the exterior of the structure. 


 “There are significantly fewer women and girls working in skilled construction roles, and this initiative aims to break down the barriers. Bringing the professionals and amazing artists together with our volunteers will no doubt provide inspiration, boost skills, and open new doors."

–Tracy Brabin

Mayor of West Yorkshire


Jude Kelly CBE, Founder and CEO of The WOW Foundation, said: “WOW provides a time and place where people can come together, to celebrate and make moves towards gender equality. I’m excited to see how The WOW Barn will manifest that this spring – a place built by and for the people of West Yorkshire. It’s perfect that this year we can bring WOW to Leeds for the first time – a city where I have spent a significant part of my career – at a time when the whole city is coming together to celebrate culture in its many forms.”

Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin added: “There are significantly fewer women and girls working in skilled construction roles, and this initiative aims to break down the barriers. Bringing the professionals and amazing artists together with our volunteers will no doubt provide inspiration, boost skills, and open new doors. 

“We’re going to build a spectacular barn that will raise the roof for our cultural celebrations, proving once and for all that construction can be an industry for everyone, no matter what.”

Women and non-binary people interested in taking part in building The WOW Barn should register their interest at

Picture: a photograph of Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire (left) and Kully Thiarai, LEEDS 2023’s Creative Director and CEO at Cinder Moor, Leeds. They are both holding protective hard hats. Image Credit: JMA Photography

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 15 March 2023


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