Inspirational apprentice, 16, starts full-time job two days after finishing GCSE exams
Published by Hazel Rycroft for Keepmoat in Housing and also in Environment
Lee Keeley (right) joins Keepmoat Property Services
A tireless teenager is hoping to inspire other youngsters after starting his first full-time job just two days after completing his final GCSE exam.
Lee Keeley, 16, finished his final exam at Maplesden Noakes School in Maidstone on Friday, June 13 and just took the weekend off before starting work as a multi-skill apprentice with Keepmoat Property Services on Monday, June 16.
Lee has his nan Glenis Hayes to thank for helping him land the job after the Hyde Housing tenant, 66, identified the vacancy while attending a presentation from Keepmoat Property Services’ head of community involvement Linda Crosby, at a Hyde meet the contractor event.
Glenis arranged for Lee to make contact with Linda to take up a work experience placement with Keepmoat Property Services during February half-term and Lee enjoyed the experience so much he decided to apply for an apprenticeship.
Now Lee could find himself carrying out work on his nan’s home after Keepmoat Property Services signed a ten-year responsive maintenance and out-of-hours emergency repairs contract with Hyde Housing in October 2013.
Lee’s apprenticeship is a real reward for all his hard work after he balanced working two part-time jobs, with school work, homework, membership of the Boys’ Brigade, as well as acting as a carer for his dad, Michael, who has cerebral palsy.
He will have to give up the paper round he has been doing for the last two and a half years and the two evenings a week he works at a local Indian takeaway.
Lee, who is a member of the 3rd Maidstone Boys Brigade associated to Maidstone Methodist Church, said: “Although I only finished my last exam on the Friday I wanted to get straight to work as soon as possible on the Monday.
“A lot of people I know say they are leaving it until September to look for jobs but I thought: ‘what’s the point in sitting around doing nothing when I could be putting myself to use and learning new skills while earning money’.
“I like to work hard myself and help others with their work when I can.
“This is a big step for me, but I’m looking forward to learning lots of new skills. I have done quite a bit of DIY in the past so I’m looking forward to developing skills that should be able to keep me in work for the rest of my life.
“I’m so happy I’ve got my first job! My nan went to the contractors meeting with Hyde Housing so she helped me get the work experience and I really enjoyed it.
“I guess I could end up working on my nan’s house now so that would be a nice way to thank her!
“It’s good that I know she makes a lovely cup of tea too!”
Keepmoat Property Services now look after 12,500 homes for Hyde Housing in the South East including delivering void property works in the region.
Hyde, a not-for-profit company, owns and manages more than 43,000 homes in London and the South East and is one of England’s largest providers of affordable housing.
As part of the contract Keepmoat opened up depots in Brighton, Mitcham, Dartford, and Maidstone, where Lee will work from.
Nan Glenis, who is on the resident engagement team at Hyde Housing, said: “I’m really, really proud of Lee.
“I knew Lee would be really keen to do the work experience in his holiday even though he’d already done work experience through school.
“Lee’s not had a normal background, it’s been hard work for him growing up, but he’s such a caring lad. He’s hard-working, he’s loyal, he’s outgoing, he grabs opportunities, he loves life and he wants to get on in life
“Lee really is one in a million. He is a really amazing lad, he never ever lets you down.”
Keepmoat Property Services, headquartered in Leeds, maintains more than 100,000 properties in the UK and responds to more than 250,000 responsive repair requests, including 25,000 out of hours repair calls.
Linda Crosby, Head of Community Involvement at Keepmoat Property Services, said: “We hold meet the contractor events on almost all Keepmoat contracts to make sure we engage with the local community and to meet local residents and local workmen who we could offer employment to.
“It’s quite unusual for us to meet an apprentice through their grandmother but Lee made such a great impression on his work experience week with Keepmoat Property Services and during the selection process that we felt he would make a fantastic apprentice.”