A top builder is working with a Welsh Government anti-poverty programme to offer unemployed people in the Wrexham area a stepping stone to a job in the construction industry.
Anwyl Construction have made four work placements available, two of them on the site of a ground-breaking £5 million dementia care centre in Chirk they are building for Clwyd Alyn Housing Association, part of the Pennaf Housing Group.
And the Rhyl-based company showed a group of unemployed around the site as part of a taster session arranged with Pennaf and Urban Villages Communities First, the organisation which aims to narrow the economic, education/skills and health gaps between deprived and more affluent areas of Wrexham.
Anwyl will be working with Communities First in an ongoing partnership and experts from Anwyl and from Pennaf were at the session to give advice and insight into the different roles and career pathways in the building industry.
One of the two-week work placements at the Chirk Court site has already gone to 25-year-old Ben Hope, from Plas Madoc, in Wrexham.
He said: “I was made redundant from my job in the hotel industry four months ago and have since been looking for a new start.
“I actually worked in construction for four years when I was in my late teens and enjoyed it so much I thought I’d like to try to get back into it.
“My aim is to work my way up and eventually get some qualifications because I’d love to learn more about the business.
“Through Communities First I managed to get a two-week work placement at Chirk Court, which I’ll be spending on learning about groundwork around the site.”
Ben added: “The placement offered by Anwyl has been a real godsend to me and hopefully it will be a stepping stone to something more permanent.
“I see it as a great opportunity and I’m really looking forward to starting there.”
One of those on the taster session was 40-year-old Barry Thomas, also from Plas Madoc, who left his job as a tyre fitter for health reasons in 2007 and has since been unemployed.
He said: “I’ve now overcome the health issue I had and am ready to get back to work.
“I found it really interesting and I’m thinking of applying for one of the work placements because I’d like to try construction.
“The idea of creating something from nothing on a building site and then being proud of the finished product is attractive and I’d like to thank Anwyl Construction for giving me the chance to take a look at what the industry is all about.”
One of the Anwyl team helping to show the group around the site was Assistant Site Manager Matt Allport who started out as an apprentice with the company in 2006 and who has since gained a host of qualifications, the latest a degree in construction science from Bangor University.
Matt said: “I’m a construction ambassador for Anwyl and part of that role has been visiting schools and events to give people an insight into the industry.
“There’s always a lot of interest in construction but not many people actually get the chance to give it a try and that’s why taster sessions like this are so important.
“Ben seems very keen so it’s great to be able to get him onto one of our work placements and hopefully it could lead to something permanent with us.”
Olivia Hughes, Anwyl Marketing and Community Liaison Officer, who arranged the taster session, said: “Ben will spend his two weeks with one of our contractors doing groundworks but other trades are being offered including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, plastering, Joinery and general laboring.
“Our aim is to provide positive outcomes to all those communities in which we work, through Employment, Education, Training, Upskilling & Health and Safety.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Urban Villages Communities First and share many of their visions to support local communities in Wrexham.
“It is important that we encourage people to become the future of the construction industry and equip them with the right skills from the outset.”
Deiniol Evans, Director of Development and Technical Services for the Pennaf Housing Group, said: “As a group we fully support work placements such as those being offered by Anwyl.
“We like to pride ourselves on all our schemes being part of their local communities and of benefit to them.
“It’s one thing to learn about it in college but being able to gain first-hand experience of how an industry works is invaluable.”
Catherine Speed, Urban Villages Communities First Cluster Manager concerned with the Chirk Court taster, said: “We are grateful to Anwyl for this partnership working opportunity which can offer our clients a real insight into the world of work within their company.
“We see lots of people who are looking for opportunities to gain employment or upskill and it is crucial to the success of our programmes for us to have positive working relationships with businesses in helping us to develop individuals and improve local communities.
“We look forward to future working opportunities with Anwyl and seeing local people benefit from this new partnership.”
Cllr Neil Rogers, Lead Member for Economic Development and Regeneration, said: “It is very encouraging to see people are already securing training as a result of their success in the Construction Skills Certification Scheme.
“Given the importance of workplace training to employers and its usefulness on a CV, we hope that further partnership between Communities First and Anwyl, along with other companies, will help people find the skills they need to get in to employment.”
The Chirk Court care home is the subject of a major redevelopment being carried out by Anwyl Construction for Clwyd Alyn Housing Association in partnership with Wrexham County Borough Council.
This includes a 66-bed scheme providing professional support to meet a range of needs including specialist dementia care.
Two of the four wings of the original building have already been transformed with a £900,000 refurbishment programme providing accommodation for 10 residents as well as offices, catering areas and a medication management facility.
The remaining two wings of the former Chirk Court building have been demolished and four further separate accommodation areas are being built to provide an additional 56 beds specifically designed to meet the care needs of residents with dementia.
The new areas will have 14 beds in each of the separate ‘household areas’ within the larger scheme.