Release Date: 19-Mar-2010
A community enterprise scheme is celebrating a major success this week, with the official opening of a block of flats that local people have been trained and employed to renovate.
Working with Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing (KNH), which manages council homes in the area, the Fresh Horizons social enterprise in Deighton, Huddersfield has transformed a block of empty flats and brought them back into use; all four flats have now been rented.
The Ruskin Grove team
More importantly, in an area with high unemployment, the scheme has created training and job opportunities for local people.
Through their Key2Work programme, Fresh Horizons identified a number of young unemployed people interested in working in the construction industry and worked intensively with them to build their confidence, provided work experience, interview preparation and helped them get training through Accent Housing to increase their skill levels.
The young people were then employed by Fresh Horizons to work on the renovation scheme, helped and supervised by their experienced construction staff, and two have continued on to become modern apprentices, combining work with college study to become qualified in construction trades.
Ryan Charles, a joinery apprentice, said: “"Thanks to Fresh Horizons and KNH, I have had the chance to develop myself in the work place and found a role that I really enjoy.”
His colleague on the scheme, Vicki McDonald, is also embarking on a modern apprenticeship. She said, “the scheme has given me the chance to find a job in a tough economic climate, and I’m now working and going to college. It’s been a great experience.”
According to Andy Ross, the Deighton housing manager, “This was a completely new kind of scheme for KNH and we’re really pleased with the way it’s gone. We hope that the partnership will last into the future and see it playing an important role in the long term success of the area.”
Councillor Shabir Pandor, the cabinet member responsible for housing, said: “One of the council’s top priorities is to narrow the gap between disadvantaged groups and the rest of Kirklees.
“This is a terrific example of how different organisations can work together with residents to do this in a climate where developing our youngsters with new skills through work will provide better opportunities for them in the future.”
The photo shows (L-R) L-R Ben Sullivan (Fresh Horizons Construction Team Leader), Cllr Cath Harris, Mike McCusker, Managing Director Fresh Horizons, Vicky McDonald (Fresh Horizon Modern Apprentice), Andy Ross KNH Area Manager, Simon Rogers KNH Chief Exec, Ryan Charles (Fresh Horizon Modern Apprentice) Martyn Giles KNH and Janet Gibson (Project Manager KNH).