Young apprentices face the future with confidence

21st Jul 2014

An innovative collaboration between a local voluntary organisation, a building firm, an NHS Trust and an educational body has launched a national first in the West Midlands.  The project will deliver homes and jobs in 2015.  The launch event took place in Small Health at an exemplar housing design.  The project will put that design into practice in Sandwell in disused healthcare estate on Hallam Street, opposite Sandwell General Hospital.

27 new apprenticeships will be created.  These apprenticeships are aimed at young people, and targeted at those young people most at risk of being without a home or educational opportunities.  In addition to starting a career in the NHS the collaboration between Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, Health Education England, St Basils and Keepmoat Homes will offer accommodation.  The project refurbished a block of apartments, previously used as NHS staff accommodation, as temporary homes for young apprentices.

A key feature of this scheme is that young people will be benefit free. The funding and support structure has been developed to ensure that young people can have the opportunity to live and work without reliance on welfare benefits. The anticipated benefits of the scheme include:

  • Accommodation for 27 apprentices.
  • An option which does not trap young people in the benefit cycle and vulnerable to sanctions.
  • Sustained employment for approximately 20 young people per year.
  • Improved health and wellbeing.
  • Recognition of the Trust as an employer of choice.
  • Learning for all about the possibility of replicating such schemes.

Prof Janice Stevens, Managing Director of Health Education England said: “We are proud to be part of the collaboration in this ground-breaking project that will help support the young people who previously found it hard to gain confidence and self-belief, to enable them to ultimately gain employment and a career in the NHS, through this programme.

Richard Samuda, Chairman of Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust said: “There’s real drive and energy around this scheme given the impressive gains achievable in public health where all stakeholders benefit. It encapsulates what integration really means at a practical level.”

Emma Race, Apprentice Ward Service Officer at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust said: “As someone who is going through the apprenticeship programme, I feel it has improved my confidence, skills and my outlook on life. I would encourage everyone to get involved.”

Jean Templeton, Chief Executive, St Basils said: “This ‘Live and Work’ scheme is a response to homeless young people who tell us that what they really need is a home and a job. The scheme provides support, apprenticeships and accommodation. The innovation is that they will be able to take up an apprenticeship and live in safe, affordable accommodation without recourse to benefits. This is only possible through a whole community approach. At the stakeholder event a range of partners came together with young people to discuss their commitment and contributions which will make this scheme a reality. We are really excited by the enthusiasm and ambition of all those involved.”

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