‘Sweat equity’ apprentices start work 

A ‘sweat equity’ scheme which is helping people from disadvantaged backgrounds into new jobs and new homes is getting underway to mark National Apprenticeship Week.

City West Housing Trust has worked with partner agencies including the Big Life Group to identify local residents to take part in its Fresh Living project, which aims to help people to rebuild their lives with apprenticeships in the construction industry. 

During National Apprenticeship Week (March 9th to 13th) seven candidates, who have just completed a six month training programme with City West, will begin a three year apprenticeship with one of the landlord’s contractors. 

The candidates will be involved in building hundreds of much needed new homes for the housing association across Salford during their apprenticeship – with each person guaranteed the chance to move into a City West property next year. 

As part of the project, the apprentices will be paid a living wage for 30 hours a week and bank a further 10 hours as ‘sweat equity’ in the first year of the programme. This will subsidise their rent during the second and third year of their apprenticeships and help them to transition into their new lives.

Kim Harrison, a 29 year old mother of two undertaking the scheme, said: “To be able to move my children into a new home would be a dream come true for my partner and I – and finally finding a career for myself that I enjoy and I’m good at would definitely be the icing on the cake.

“I was a comedian at school and didn’t focus on getting an education - this led me to being excluded and I left without any qualifications.

“I was really nervous when I started the training but now my confidence has soared. I’ve had a go at a variety of trades including plastering, plumbing and joinery, but I absolutely love plumbing, I think I have found my niche.”

Kim, along with the other apprentices, will work with Watson Homes and Mulberry Homes in delivering the landlord’s ambitious £75 million project to build 700 homes across Salford by 2018.

Allan Wane, 29, said the Fresh Living project had helped him turn his life around.

“I went off the rails as a teenager, never learning from my mistakes, and eventually ended up in prison,” he said.

“I have two children and a third on the way, so I know that I have to get working and think about my future. But when you have convictions, it’s incredibly hard to find a job, let alone a career.

“Fresh Living is offering me so much – I was curious about having a career in construction and so far I’ve loved every single day. I feel like my life is now going in a positive direction and my partner is so proud of my progress.”

The Fresh Living programme is due to end in 2018, after the apprentices complete their three year apprenticeships. 

City West will continue to work with those taking part after the programme has finished to provide careers advice.

Lisa Scully, Director of Business Transformation at City West, said: “City West is dedicated to provide quality homes to people of all walks of life, and to ensure they have access to job opportunities.

“Fresh Living combines these two goals, offering people who have struggled in life the chance to gain a career and secure a home to call their own.

“We wish all the apprentices the best of luck as they undertake the programme, and look forward to supporting them along the way.”

This content was posted by Frontier Public Relations Ltd.

Frontier Public Relations provides specialist social housing PR support to housing associations and the housing sector including media relations, crisis communications and internal communications support.

To find out more contact us on 0161 306 8502 or email enq@frontierpr.co.uk



Case Studies

Salford mum rebuilding her life with apprenticeship 

A mum-of-two from Salford is calling for more women to consider building a career with an apprenticeship, with her own experience of learning a trade set to drastically change her life.

After being expelled from school at age 16, Kim Harrison spent years struggling to hold down a permanent job, picking up a variety of low-paid roles and spending time in unemployment.    

However, the City West Housing Trust customer is now set to pursue a new career, after joining the landlord’s construction training programme - Fresh Living. 

The scheme supports people who are unemployed or from challenging backgrounds to gain the skills and qualifications necessary to find work within the construction industry. 

Kim, now 29, said: “I was a comedian at school and didn’t focus on getting an education - this led me to being excluded and I left without any qualifications. 

“I’ve always been in and out of work, but it was only after I had a job cleaning new homes on construction sites that I realised a career in construction would appeal to me. I really enjoyed working on the sites and I was intrigued by the wide variety of roles available.”

In October 2014, Kim was referred to City West’s Fresh Living programme by local charity the Big Life Group and set about completing a 22-week training programme - she has never looked back. 

Kim said: “I was really nervous when I started the training but my confidence has soared. I’ve had a go at a variety of trades including plastering, plumbing and joinery, but I absolutely love plumbing, I think I have found my niche and even my partner is impressed by new skill-set!

“I really want to pursue a career as a female plumber in the future, and I’ve had a great reception from the customers I’ve met during my training. I’m proud to be breaking the norm – I think there should definitely be more women training and working in construction roles.”

 In March 2015, eight candidates from the training programme will be offered three-year apprenticeships with City West Housing Trust’s contractors - City West Works, Mulbury Homes, Watson Homes and Bardsley Construction – and will help to build or renovate hundreds of homes across Salford, with each person guaranteed to secure a City West property after they graduate from the scheme. 

All apprentices will be paid a living wage for 30 hours and bank a further 10 hours as ‘sweat equity’ in the first year of the programme. This will subsidise their rent during the second and third year of their apprenticeships, helping them to transition into their new lives.

Kim said: “There are not many chances like this out there and I want to grab it with both hands.“To be able to move my children into a new home would be a dream come true for my partner and I – and finally finding a career for myself that I enjoy - and I’m good at - would definitely be the icing on the cake.”

Lifelong Salford resident gets a fresh start with City West

A Salford man whose grief at the loss of his father saw him spiral into a life of crime says he is hoping build a brighter future after being accepted onto City West Housing Trust’s Fresh Living programme. 

After losing his father during his teenage years, Allan Wane went into a self-destructive pattern that saw him fall in with the wrong crowd. 

His downward spiral resulted in him being imprisoned twice by the age of 19.

Since Allan’s release from his final stretch in jail six years ago, he has tried desperately to turn his life around, but he has been unable to find a job - or a home of his own - and currently sleeps on a friend’s sofa.

The 29-year-old said: “My dad’s passing was the catalyst for me going off the rails – I moved out of home and in and out of hostels. I was only 16 when I spent 12 months in prison but I hadn’t learnt my lesson and I got sent to prison again for two and a half years.

“I knew I couldn’t stay in this cycle for the rest of my life and I’ve turned over a new leaf on a personal level, but it’s extremely difficult to find work when you have criminal convictions.”

After being referred by local charity Salford Foundation, Allan secured a place on Fresh Living’s initial 22-week training programme – gaining industry approved qualifications, and developing key construction skills such as plastering, tiling and joinery.

The programme has offered Allan a lifeline and he is now set to secure a three-year apprenticeship with a City West Housing Trust contractor - helping to build or renovate hundreds of homes across Salford.Each apprentice will be guaranteed to secure a City West property after they graduate from the scheme and will paid a living wage for 30 hours. 

A further 10 hours will be banked as ‘sweat equity’ in the first year of the programme, subsidising their rent during the second and third year of their apprenticeships and helping them to transition into their new lives.

Allan said: “This programme has offered me so much – I was curious about having a career in construction and so far I’ve loved every single day. I feel like my life is now going in a positive direction and my partner is so proud of my progress. “

I’ve made great friends, gained skills and found a confidence in myself that I never thought I would have - I can’t believe there is also the prospect that I could have a stable home for my family, I have two young children who I see regularly and a baby on the way, and it would mean the world to me.” 

Allan adds: “I feel like the young people in the schools we visit can relate to me, I’m really honest about my mistakes and I tell them there is nothing glamorous about a life of crime. I would really love to become a full-time mentor at some point in the future, and use my skills, background and experience to help educate and point young people in the right direction.”

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