CYPNow - NHP Supports Care Leaver Apprentices

CYPNow - NHP Supports Care Leaver Apprentices

Posted 1st May 2024

The National House Project (NHP) has been hosting apprentices since 2021.

The organisation, which was incorporated as a charity in 2018, works with local authorities that have set up their own Local House Project (LHP), a scheme that helps young people leave care in a planned and supported way.

Young people, both in and leaving care, are brought together in groups to create their first homes, learn new skills and join a long-term community of support that can develop pathways into education, employment and training.

With 17 LHPs established across England, involving more than 700 young people, around half of these local projects provide apprenticeships as part of their offer, explains Sue Hammersley, director of NHP.

There have been three young people so far that have undertaken an apprenticeship with NHP. Hammersley says all apprenticeships offered at NHP and across the LHPs are business administrative roles, although one project in Oxford has offered a participation apprenticeship after linking in with a local college.

“We also considered a participation apprenticeship [at NHP] but part of the problem was finding a suitable college that could offer a qualification to accompany that,” she explains. “But it’s something that we may look at again in the future.”

Recruitment for apprenticeship vacancies is managed by Birmingham Metropolitan College that publishes job adverts indicating the roles are ringfenced for care leavers and children in care.

NHP also uses social media and its own website to publicise available roles, adds Tanya Greppellini, the charity’s executive support manager.

She says apprenticeships are incredibly important for care leavers because of the multiple benefits they can provide.

“It enables them to gain confidence and learn to navigate the world of work and often they have not had that kind of support as they were growing up,” explains Greppellini.

“Giving them an employment opportunity helps them to be able to turn up on time, know how to dress, work as part of a team and to be able to ask for help.

“We will provide them with additional support for other areas in their life – it’s not just coming in and doing the work.”

The charity aims to develop around five new LHPs each year – that take about 12 months to become operational – which would allow for between two to three apprenticeships to be offered at each location.

“By the time they have established themselves, that’s when they feel confident to be taking on apprentices and making it a really meaningful role,” explains Hammersley.

She believes apprenticeships were always an integral part of the LHP model of support that NHP intended to provide to care leavers.

“The whole purpose of House Projects is to offer young people opportunities and experiences with the right level of support to make sure that they can access those and sustain them,” she says.

“We know that young people are going to have much more fulfilling lives if they can do something purposeful and feel part of that fabric of society.

“We felt we were well placed to offer young people what they need in a very nurturing way but also to have those expectations for them at the same time.”

In addition to increased flexibility in the workplace that helps take into account a young person’s individual circumstances – navigating unplanned changes to public transport timetables, for example - the charity pays its apprentices the living wage to maximise uptake.

“It’s double what many apprentices in other workplaces might get but wages are based on someone living at home, not for young people having to pay for things like gas, electricity and food by themselves,” explains Hammersley.

She says NHP has a good partnership with clothing charities such as Smart Works to help apprentices get a work wardrobe without having to find additional money to cover the cost of clothes before they start work.

Despite an increase in the amount of bursary offered to care leavers starting apprenticeships - it rose to £3,000 from August last year - Hammersley says low wages and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis prevent many young people from taking up apprenticeships.

“There were only 330 care leavers last year that claimed a bursary and with 10,000 young people leaving care every year, that means for most of them apprenticeships are just not possible because they can’t afford to do them,” she explains.

“That’s why we pay the living wage and our LHP staff provide that scaffolding for young people to go off into the world of work.

“They are there to check in with them and to be there at the end of the week. We all need someone on a Friday evening to ask how our week’s been,” she says.

Impact

Of the three young people to have undertaken an apprenticeship at NHP, one has gained a permanent role at the charity while another gained a distinction and has found employment with a “well known” organisation carrying out audit work.

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