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Derwentside Homes project gives apprentices a brighter future

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Derwentside Homes project gives apprentices a brighter future


Published by Ailsa Macmillan for Derwentside Homes Ltd in Housing and also in Communities

Stephen Donaghy, 20, from Consett and Jennifer Cribbin, 20, from Stanley who have gained new careers thanks to the Derwentside Homes, Brighter Futures project. Stephen Donaghy, 20, from Consett and Jennifer Cribbin, 20, from Stanley who have gained new careers thanks to the Derwentside Homes, Brighter Futures project.

Two apprentices from County Durham have successfully gained full time employment thanks to a housing association’s scheme.

Derwentside Homes’ Brighter Futures project, which aims to get local unemployed people into education, training and work has helped Stephen Donaghy from Consett and Jennifer Cribbin from Stanley, both 20, to gain new careers with a construction consultancy practice.

After working as an apprentice, Stephen is now a full time Trainee Building Surveyor for Elvet Construction Consultants in Stanley and Jennifer has also been taken on as an Apprentice Business Administrator.

The Brighter Futures project was awarded £50,000 of funding from North East Procurement (NEP), a consortium of North East based social housing providers, which fund community projects.

Stephen Melvin, Director of Operations at Derwentside Homes, said: “Our Brighter Futures project is a real help to young adults as they get on the career ladder.

“It is great news to hear that Stephen and Jennifer have been taken on at Elvet Construction Consultants.

“As a local housing association, we work hard to ensure that youngsters living in our communities have the best start in life and gain long term employment.”

Elvet Construction Consultants specialise in quantity surveying, project management, building surveying and sustainability.

Prior to securing employment, Stephen struggled to find work and Jennifer was engaged on a zero hour contract at a local gastro pub.

Stephen was originally employed as an Apprentice Business Administrator with Social Housing Enterprise Durham (SHED) through the Brighter Futures project on a six month contract.

Since launching in May 2012, the project has worked with more than 350 clients, 187 of which were Derwentside Homes tenants and more than 100 people have been supported into employment, with 56 progressing beyond six months.

By reducing unemployment, the project aims to create a positive change in local neighbourhoods, encouraging a sense of pride in the community and inspiring the next generation by supporting them to increase their skills and knowledge through training sessions.

The SHED scheme employs apprentices to complete a range of home-improvement services such as gardening, decorating and odd jobs – employing people who have been out of work for six months or more.

After a successful trial, Elvet Construction Consultants decided to offer Stephen a full time position as a Trainee Building Surveyor and as part of his training, he has recently qualified as a Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) enabling him to undertake domestic Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs).

Stuart Fisher, Director of Elvet Construction Consultants, said: “Both of the company Directors started their careers as apprentices and feel that it’s beneficial to gain practical experience at the same time as training - especially with the apparent lack of youth employment today.

“Derwentside Homes has supported us through the whole process helping to identify suitable training courses and providers, including relevant funding streams that are available.

“They helped us to find our new apprentice business administrator Jennifer Cribbin from the local area.

“During Stephen’s employment as an administrator, he demonstrated key attributes that are essential for a building surveyor.

“He has shown good technical skills, quickly becoming a valuable member of the team, recently assisting our senior building surveyor to deliver over 400 condition surveys and EPCs on behalf of a local housing association.”

Employment Initiatives Officer at NEP, Tracey Peggie, said:  “We are proud to have been able to part fund this initiative.  Brighter Futures has had an impressive impact on the people it has worked with, something I think is partly down to the way it focuses on each individual’s need rather than a one-size fits all approach.  

“Stephen and Jennifer should be really proud of their achievements - they’ve come a long way and are both determined, focused individuals who I know will be successful in the future.”


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