New Start as estates workers at Bernicia

It’s a warm welcome to six new colleagues at Bernicia seizing the opportunity of a New Start in their careers. 
They have just begun five-month contracts at Bernicia as estates services operatives, helping improve the quality of life for tenants in communities across the region.
David Almond, 35, Craig Wilkinson, 40, Chris Batey, 40, Paul Purvis, 48, Paul Cheeseman, 58, and 59-year-old Fred Charlton are boosting their career prospects and earning a real wage working as part of the estates services team.
They successfully negotiated interviews to gain a place on the New Start programme backed by more than £700,000 from the Government’s UK Community Renewal Fund.
It aims to boost the employability of people aged 25 and over in the North of Tyne area, adding to their skills while learning on the job and earning a real wage.
Paul said: “Every day is different – we are doing everything from general maintenance on estates and keeping them tidy to helping tenants move home.
“I heard about the New Start position through the Newbiggin Learning Hive who helped me with a job search. I quite enjoyed the interview and it’s been a great experience so far working with a canny bunch of lads in a supportive business.”
Chris, who previously worked for Amazon, said: “I’m really happy with how it’s going – not being in work had affected my confidence quite a lot.
“The interview was great, as was the induction – they are very understanding and welcoming.”
For Craig, 22 years working as a painter and decorator, recently on agency work, had begun to take its toll on his welfare and he was looking for a change of direction in his life.
“It was mentally and physically draining work and I was trying for a long time to get out of it, jumping from agency to agency was no good,” he said.
“I will stick with this and give it the best shot I can.”
Fred said: “For the past four years I was my mother’s full-time carer. I was up at the Job Centre and my work coach told me about this and I thought ‘I’ll give it a go’.
“It’s ideal. The work isn’t too heavy as it’s a while since I did this kind of work, but it’s meaningful work and that feels great.”
John Green, Estates Services Team Leader, said: “They are all doing really well, working hard and putting the effort in.
“All of the team did superbly to get through their interviews for the roles held at St James’ Park and they are getting stuck into the job.”
Thanks to backing from the UK Community Renewal Fund, Bernicia is one of a group of North of Tyne housing providers who created the innovative employability project to help unlock potential.
The partnership is made up of Bernicia, Your Homes Newcastle, Northumberland County Council, North Tyneside Council, charity Changing Lives and Karbon Homes.
The photo shows the new team together with team leader John Green.