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Meet Andy - our newest customer apprentice

Matt Roberts

Written by Matt Roberts, PR adviser

Do you want to learn new skills or use your talents in a new way? Are you long-term unemployed and hoping to get back into work? Then a customer apprenticeship could be right for you.

We commit to helping customers access new experiences and inspire them to become colleagues. Of the 120 apprenticeships we offer a year, we award more than 50% to our customers.

We were keen to learn more about the customer apprentice journey ahead of National Apprenticeship Week so sat down with Andy, one of our customer apprentices.

Andy is about to start his apprenticeship with our health and safety team.

Andy has been a customer at our Tyneside Foyer service for several months. While there, our colleagues recognised his strengths and supported him in applying for the apprenticeship.

Sitting down with Andy, this is what he had to say:

Andy, how does it feel to be one of our newest customer apprentices?
"It feels amazing. Like if there is any company that I’m going to join, then it is the one that, for the last nine months, has housed and supported me.

"I honestly couldn’t pick a better fit for me personally than Home Group.

How did you become aware of the apprenticeship opportunity?
"I was talking to some of the staff, and they mentioned that the job came up. They thought that I would be a good fit for it.

"I thought about it for a while and after some thought I decided I would try it. I was happy to work for Home Group. It was a good chance to get some qualifications and get myself back out there in the working world.

What sort of support was offered to help you with the application process?
"Everyone at Home Group was incredibly helpful. I had a lot of people walking me through the job description. At every step of the way, I had someone talking to me about the opportunity and what the role was. I felt very supported the whole way through.

I was also provided with additional support which allowed me to get a whole new suit for the interview.

How did it feel when you discovered you had been successful with the apprenticeship?

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Honestly, I let out the biggest ‘woo!’ ever. It felt amazing. I’ve spent nine months in a hostel and a lot of that time, I was thinking ‘where can I go from here?’ and ‘where can I grow as a person?’.

I thought not only is this allowing me the opportunity to get back out into the world, but it is in a good, safe environment and it feels more natural to me.

It was amazing. I was over the moon. I was holding back tears when I found out.

Andy | customer apprentice at Home Group

What are your ambitions for the future now you have secured this apprenticeship?
"For me personally, it was a big confidence thing getting back into work. Sitting around for the last few months, I have done a lot of thinking and realised that I don’t believe in myself a lot.

"I feel like the importance of getting [this apprenticeship] wasn’t just about getting back into work. It was to grow more as a person.

"My goal at the end of it is just to be a better person than when I came in.

"I find it very important to me, and to my family and friends, that I want to be the best that I can be. I don’t want to keep thinking that I wasn’t worth it or capable of doing what I know I could do.

What would be your advice to other customers?

"Something I say to everyone is that there are a lot of opportunities right in front of you that you don’t always look for. The more I engaged, the more I felt I got out of the whole process.

"It taught me that not only is there a lot of support offered, but there is also a lot of kindness and nurturing values that you get from the support workers and staff.

"Listen and engage as much as possible and follow opportunities.

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