Apprentices grew their skills on challenge day

Apprentices grew their skills on challenge day

A group of our young operatives recently took part in our Apprentice of the Year challenge at an allotment in Stoke-on-Trent which is run by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust and our client, Steelite International. Later this month, we will reveal the overall winner and runners-up of the challenge, but before we do, find out what our apprentices learned during the day in this blog.

Tom Pearce

The challenge really helped me to develop my teamwork and communication skills as we all worked together to make over the allotment for the Root ‘n’ Fruit project. My favourite thing about the day was working alongside the other apprentices to tidy up the site so people in the local community can grow vegetables there.
James Riley

My role at Novus is as an apprentice painter, so it was good to get hands-on in the allotment and do something a bit different, and something I haven’t done before. I picked up a lot of new practical and theoretical skills and it was rewarding to know that all the hard work we put in on the day went towards helping the local community.

Glen Speight

I feel as if I really learned the value of team work and good communication during the challenge as we all had to work together so closely.  My favourite thing about taking part in the contest was knowing I‘d been chosen as one of the final seven apprentices. The nervous anticipation of not knowing what the challenges were was quite exciting and the satisfaction of seeing all our hard work result in a job well done was rewarding.

Paul Andrews

During the day, I really enjoyed figuring out alternative ways of completing work as we were on a very tight schedule and needed to work together. Seeing a few of the apprentices I met during the apprentice week last year was great, and it was amazing to meet Victor Moses of course! All in all the day was brilliant, and good fun as well.

Kyle Park

I developed many valuable interpersonal skills on the day, as I interacted with lots of different people and made sure I was always professional and friendly. The challenge required plenty of teamwork too, which helped me to build on my communication and motivational skills. My usual area of work is painting and decorating so it was great to do something a bit different.

How Eagle-eyed Contractors Can Help Landlords


Kevin Rhone, head of social value at Novus, explains why housing associations can glean new insights from contractors working in their communities and use them for more than completing building works. The social housing sector faces unending challenges. Not only are they tasked with regenerating communities, pressured to provide high quality homes and services, and challenged to increase their build rates, they’re also looked to as a key stakeholder in ensuring the safety and security of people in their communities. Having eyes and ears on the ground in these communities to make sure customers are safe and well is a bank-breaking investment, however. This is particularly true of national organisations borne of the spate of M&A activity in recent years. Monitoring communities more deeply than they’re obligated to do is almost impossible over their geographic footprints. Particularly since, for these organisations, huge amounts of capital have to be spent solely on maintaining stock. However, many RPs are missing an opportunity. They’re not using contractors’ insights, yet these businesses can offer a wealth of understanding about local communities. Construction and Maintenance Teams’ Positive Impact Of course, customer care officers can’t be everywhere at once. Construction and maintenance teams interact with housing associations’ customers every day. They see it all first hand and can be friendly faces on estates while also helping associations to identify solutions to regular issues. Many on-site professionals are keen to engage. They aren’t simply there to fix and repair homes, they build relationships with communities and in some cases, can be vulnerable people’s most frequent visitor while they’re around. They will regularly help elderly residents with their shopping and can be the first to discover if they’ve had an injury. Housing associations can also ask these teams to be vigilant for signs of violence and abuse and can ask them to keep their eyes open in areas where there are suspicions of drug use. While, yes, any responsible person would report illegal activity, contractors can help further by identifying trends too – how or why certain issues may be cropping up frequently. Using them in this way can help housing associations think up new ideas of how they might be better addressed. CSR Programmes It’s not just about pointing out the problems too. Many contractors have CSR programmes and housing associations could also use these to proactively address challenges in their communities. We run a national CSR programme called Changing Lives. So far, we’ve changed over 33,000 lives since 2015 through community projects that provide work opportunities or skills development or regenerate certain areas to help improve aspirations. One of our projects in the last year saw us work with a national housing association to provide temporary accommodation for homeless young families in Sheffield, for example. Advice for Landlords Landlords can do this by opening the channels of communication. Contractors and their on-site teams can provide regular updates or join team meetings to discuss issues on estates. They can also work in conjunction with customer care teams during their day-to-day work too, offering opinions, advice and useful context before officers contact residents. Contractors are a resource often under-used in this respect. However, landlords could not only get a better understanding of the real issues in their estates, but get the insight needed to help them solve them, by involving the people who are in their communities every day.