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Apprenticeship helped Swindon man from homelessness to full employment

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Stephen BakerStephen BakerA Swindon man who seven years ago was unemployed and living in a young people's shelter is now back at the shelter – helping other young homeless people.

At the age of 20 Stephen Baker lost his job in construction and found himself at the Swindon Foyer.

With the support of the shelter staff, Stephen applied for a an NVQ Level 2 Apprenticeship in business administration with social housing provider Stonewater, which runs Swindon Foyer.

During his two-year apprenticeship, Stephen was able to work in different departments and areas of Stonewater with experienced staff who helped him develop key skills needed to progress in a business support role.

Areas his training covered included administration, business communication, providing reception services, IT skills and specialist admin support for group’s such as Stonewater’s legal and finance teams.

Stephen started his apprenticeship in 2010 at Stonewater’s Swindon office (then Jephson) where he spent three days a week learning the ropes as an admin assistant working in office reception and two days at Swindon College completing his apprenticeship studies.

He went on to complete an NVQ Level 3 a year later, working a full, five-day week at the office with frequent visits from his college assessor.

After completing his apprenticeship, Stonewater offered Stephen a full-time job and he’s never looked back.

Since then he has been helping Stonewater’s front-line housing teams and 65,000 customers in a variety of administration roles from office reception to supporting the housing allocations and rents teams.

“Stonewater has put me through a few training and career development courses, ranging from telephone skills to system training, which have really helped me move my career forward,” said Stephen.

“The skills have all been transferrable and I’m now really handy with a lot of things at Stonewater – especially the computers.

“I’ve had so much support from the organisation to get to where I am now. A lot of the help has come from my managers who really have guided me.

“My apprenticeship has also definitely helped me. I had no office skills when I started and now I’m really handy with a lot of things at Stonewater and have a good understanding of how the business works.

"I’ve picked up so many life skills along the way and its helped me mature as a person. I really like this job and feel like I’m quite good at it, so I want to stay.”

Stephen now works as a Foyer Project Assistant at Swindon supporting other young people to maximise their own potential.

“I would 100 percent recommend apprenticeships to anyone,” he said. “If anyone has the opportunity they should grab it with both hands. I did, and I’ve now been here eight years."