An ambitious lettings agency is celebrating after doubling in size in the last year.

Elwy Lettings says that being able to tap into the successful Jobs Growth Wales programme played a vitally important role in its expansion.

Two members of staff, Katie Wynne, 23, and James Richards, 24, both started out on a six-month job opportunity at the firm’s office in Denbigh and have been taken on permanently.

The company has now recruited a third person, Jamie Andrews, 23, via the programme funded by the Welsh Government to get young people aged between 16-24 into work.

Angela Jones, the managing director of Elwy Lettings, said: “Before being able to access help form Jobs Growth Wales, I was working alone so I was unable to expand my business because I was unable to cope with any more of a workload.

“However, we have now doubled our portfolio in 12 months and we’ve actually doubled in size.

“It’s allowed me to look at other opportunities and expand into Rhyl and to look at other business opportunities because I’ve now got the staff in order to allow me the time to do that.

“The beauty of Jobs Growth Wales is that you get six months’ breathing space where you don’t have to find the wages because you get it refunded. For me, it’s been absolutely priceless.”

The news was music to the ears of the Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James AM, who visited the company as they prepare to open a second office in Rhyl.

Ms James said: “It’s lovely to see a paper policy turn into a reality that affects people’s lives and grows the economy in Wales.

“It gives people at all levels a chance at work and it gives the businesses a chance to grow.  We have a well over 80 per cent success rate when a young person completes the 6 months job opportunity in the private sector in continued careers. What’s not to like?

“Jobs Growth Wales is the envy of the UK certainly and we’ve had enquiries from all over Europe about how we’re doing this.

“One of the things we don’t emphasise quite so much and we perhaps ought to, is the effect on the local economy. It allows our smaller businesses to grow that bit faster than they used to, to grow that little bit more adventurous perhaps, to take on a few more people and just to kick start our economy locally.”

Katie Wynne, a former Ysgol Glan Clwyd pupil, has a mathematics degree from Cardiff University but was struggling to find work until Jobs Growth Wales came along – now she’s been appointed as the firm’s assistant manager in Denbigh and is looking forward to a bright future.

She said: “I was unemployed for about three months which was difficult. I was applying for lots of jobs which can be a bit depressing.

“After six months I was taken on full time and now I’ve been promoted to assistant manager and I’m doing a business course in management which is funded by the Welsh Government.”

James Richards, a former Denbigh High School pupil studied for a degree in Sports Studies from the University of Central Lancaster.

He said: “I have been really lucky. It’s tough out there for young people and a lot of my friends still haven’t found work.

“It’s good here because the atmosphere is really nice, and I’m learning a lot about things like lettings procedures.”

The latest recruit, Jamie Andrews, a former pupil of Denbigh High School, who trained as a hairdresser and later worked at the town’s Con Amici Italian restaurant, was delighted to have the opportunity for a fresh start.

He said: “I’m really enjoying it, I’m learning new things here – the programme is helping me to build a career.”

The programme is delivered on behalf of the Welsh Government locally by Grŵp Llandrillo Menai and assistant principal Lesley Thomas is delighted at how successful it’s been at Elwy Lettings.

She said: “It’s been fantastic, to have an entrepreneur like Angela who then is offering people without any experience a chance to get that experience.

“To see Katie come on from having no experience whatsoever in this type of work to now being the assistant manager of this office is what Jobs Growth Wales is about.”