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News Report Page 4 of 18
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Apprenticeship helps to turn ex-homeless young Mums life around


STUDENTS up and down the country have received their A-Level or GSCE results and are now thinking which step to take next. With many believing that University is the only option, apprenticeships have taken a backseat in students' minds with only 336,900 apprenticeships being taken up in England between August 2018 and May 2019 compared to the 517,000 in 2011/12.

The North West has seen a drop in apprenticeships in the retail and commercial enterprises in 2018/19 (YTD) to 91,480, compared to 116,240 in 2017/18. This drop is mirrored within the Hospitality and catering sector with 2,079 apprenticeships already underway in 2018/19 (Aug-Apr) compared to 2,548 in 2017/2018.

Young Stoke Mum Jessica McLaren has sent a message of hope to all local teenagers disappointed with their A-Level grades or worried about GCSE results. Jessica, 25, went off the rails, dropped out of College and was homeless for more than a year, but she turned her life around thanks to an apprenticeship

She said:- "College and University isn't the only way to a great career. I became an apprentice and haven't looked back. I'm a Head Chef now and absolutely love my job."

As a young teenager Jess was bright at School and was always in the top sets. She did well in her GCSEs and went to College...  then when she was 16 her life began to fall apart. She recalls:- "I come from a really loving family, but my Mum and Dad were a bit strict. I wanted to have the same freedom as my friends and that caused conflict at home. "I fell in with a bad crowd, went wild and rebelled. It got so bad that by the time I was 17 I had dropped out of 2 College courses because I never did any work. I was such a pain that my parents threw me out and I ended up sleeping on friends' sofas for a year."

After a while Jessica got into catering through casual work at music festivals. She found a job at a restaurant and was eventually taken on by Greene King in their award-winning apprenticeship scheme. She is now Head Chef at the Weathervane Hotel, in Meir Park, Stoke, and is working towards completing Level 5 apprentice qualification...the third level she has done.

Jessica said:- "I absolutely love my job and it's all thanks to the apprenticeship scheme. I'd rather spend my life making money while I learn than going to University and having debt for the rest of my life. I have have my own home with my partner and our 2 year old son Hilton; and my dream is to have my own business running my own kitchen. What's more, I've made up with my Mum and Dad and they are incredibly proud of me and what I have achieved. I've proved to them that I could turn my life around and become a better person."

Jessica's employers, brewing and Hospitality chain Greene King, have supported over 11,500 apprenticeships since 2011 and currently have 2,100 apprentices.

The value of apprenticeships is undeniable. Many employers will see huge economic benefits from hiring an apprentice even when they're not yet fully qualified as they offset their wage and training with what they put into and contribute to the business.

Graham Briggs, head of employability programmes for Greene King, said:- "Apprenticeships hold the stigma of being for those who 'drop out' of higher or further education, or are more suited to those whose study careers were not particularly successful. This must stop. Apprenticeships are an excellent alternative to those journeys and there could be a programme to suit many people aged 16 and above out there, especially in Hospitality. At Greene King, we're exceptionally proud of our programmes and apprentices. With dozens of awards accumulated and over 11.000 apprentices supported since we started the scheme in 2011, we know we're doing things in the right way. We also know our apprentices enjoy learning while at the same time, kick; starting their careers with us and so earning money. That's why we have pledged to support 20,000 apprenticeships by 2020."

₤900,000 Hospital Wards improvement starts

A ₤900,000 programme of improvements to 8 Wards will get under way at Southport Hospital this autumn. The 1st phase of work on Wards:- 7A, 7B, 9A, 9B, 11A and 11B will run from September until December 2019. Work on Wards 10A and 10B will start in April 2020, avoiding the busier winter period.

Corporate Matron Claire Beck, clinical lead for the work, said the improvements will focus on the Central Ward and Sluice areas, but will also include:-

Upgrades of Patient Bathrooms.

Staff Locker Rooms and upgraded Staff Toilets.

A multi disciplinary Team Room in each area.

Improved storage for stock and linen.

Changes to fire doors in each Ward to improve bed use and patient experience.

Adjustments to improve the experience of patients with dementia.

It will be the 1st major facelift for these Wards since the Hospital opened in 1989.

Therese Patten, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Strategy, said:- 2I want to thank the team of colleagues, drawn from across the Trust, who've planned and designed what is a complex programme of work. This has included working hard to avoid disruption to patients and staff. This investment is a demonstration by the Trust of not only our commitment to quality but patients' experience of care. The improvements will also provide a brighter, more comfortable workplace for staff. I look forward to celebrating the results with everyone as the autumn progresses."

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