Three apprenticeship opportunities have been created for young people to work on the £80 million regeneration of Orchard Village in the London Borough of Havering, which is being led by Old Ford Housing Association (part of Circle Anglia – one of the UK’s leading providers of affordable housing).

Circle Anglia’s main contractor responsible for carrying out the regeneration, Willmott Dixon Housing, has taken on three apprentices to work on site – two bricklayers and one carpenter. As part of Circle Anglia’s commitment to providing local people with training and employment opportunities, Circle Anglia’s contractors are contractually required to offer apprenticeships.

Each apprentice will do a two-year apprenticeship and achieve a NVQ Level Two in their chosen trades. The apprentices will work on the Orchard Village site four days a week and will attend classes at Havering Construction College in Rainham one day a week.

Ben Barber, 19 years and an Orchard Village resident, said: “I’m really enjoying the apprenticeship so far. I already had a qualification in bricklaying, but I wanted to further my knowledge and skills by completing an apprenticeship. I’ve worked on site before, but it’s really exciting to have the chance to work on a New Build project. It’s particularly exciting helping to build my new home.”

Toni Taylor, 24, was already attending Havering Construction College when she found out about the Orchard Village apprenticeship. “My interest in construction began when I realised I really enjoyed doing DIY around the home. I decided to take my interest further and enrolled in Havering College. After getting experience in different areas of construction including carpentry, painting, decorating and bricklaying – I realised that bricklaying was what I really enjoy doing. When I found out about the apprenticeship at Orchard Village I immediately applied and was so happy when I found out I’d been successful. I’m really enjoying it so far and I’m hoping it will lead to full-time employment when I complete my qualification.”

Charlie Jacobs, 16, is Orchard Village’s youngest apprentice and will be starting a carpentry apprenticeship in July after completing his GCSE’s at Albany Comprehensive in Hornchurch. “I had already applied to do a construction course at Ardleigh Green College, but I felt the opportunity at Orchard Village was more appealing as I would be getting real work experience rather than just learning in the classroom. I’m really looking forward to starting my carpentry apprenticeship. One day I plan to own my own carpentry business,” said Charlie.

June Morton, Managing Director of Old Ford Housing Association, said: “We’re thrilled that three apprentices have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and qualifications working on the exciting regeneration of Orchard Village. Old Ford Housing Association is committed to enhancing Life Chances by providing local people with training and employment opportunities. It’s a tough jobs market for young people at the moment, but construction apprenticeships like these can hopefully give young people a path into sustainable employment.”

Simon Coombes, Project Director of Willmott Housing Ltd said: ”As part of our long-term partnership with Old Ford Housing Association, it is particularly pleasing to be able to offer three individuals training in the vocation of their choice. New entrants to the building industry are the future and we are genuinely pleased with the enthusiastic start our two newest bricklayers, Toni and Ben, have made. We also look forward to welcoming Charlie shortly to the team in his chosen trade of carpentry.

Circle Anglia took over the estate in March 2008 and the regeneration of Orchard Village is already well underway. The demolition and site clearance work for Phase One is now complete and the foundations for the first new homes have been laid. Phase One will deliver 121 new, quality homes for tenants to move into from the end of the year. Circle Anglia recently secured planning permission and funding for Phase Two, which will deliver 178 new affordable homes for residents. Phase Two demolition and building is planned to begin early in 2011. Ultimately, the six year project will deliver 555 new homes for the local community.

About Circle Anglia

Circle Anglia is one of the UK’s leading providers of affordable housing. With a dedicated team of more than 2,000 staff, Circle Anglia manages more than 51,500 homes, including supported and sheltered housing, for around 187,000 people across the UK. Its mission is to enhance the Life Chances of its residents by providing great homes and reliable services, and building sustainable communities.

The Circle Anglia group includes 11 partners. Eight registered providers (RPs): South Anglia Housing, Wherry Housing Association, Old Ford Housing Association, Circle 33 Housing Trust, Roddons Housing Association, Mole Valley Housing Association, Mercian Housing Association and Russet Homes; two support & care partners: EPIC Trust and Invicta Telecare, as well as Commercial Services Circle Anglia for shared ownership, market rent and private sale properties.

In 2007 Circle Anglia won the ‘best small development” award at the Affordable Home Ownership Awards for the ‘Ice block’ in Islington, Best Employer category in the 2007 Eastern Daily Press Recruitment Awards and the Gold Award at Old Ford for ‘building cohesive communities’. Circle Anglia Group is certified as an ‘Investor in People’.