Benefiting the community in Wrexham

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    Gareth Thomas, Housing Press Officer at Wrexham Borough Council explains how communities in Wrexham are seeing extra benefits from housing improvement works…

    Employment and Modern Apprenticeships in Wrexham County Borough have received a boost as a result of the comprehensive improvement works programme Wrexham Council’s housing service are carrying out to ensure their properties meet the Welsh Housing Quality Standard. A range of other local groups, schools, Community Centres, and Youth Sports Teams, have also been receiving a variety of donated materials, sponsorships, and funding help.

    Since the Community Benefits initiative was introduced by the Welsh government to maximise the local value for every pound spent in achieving WHQS, clauses have been included in Wrexham Council’s housing service major work contracts, requiring firms to develop a range of Community Benefit schemes. These can include taking on a specified quota of local labour, purchasing materials and supplies from local businesses, offering work experience placements, and setting up funding and sponsorship schemes for community groups. Wrexham are currently carrying out extensive improvement works to ensure all 11,300 of its social housing properties meet the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) ahead of the 2020 deadline, set by the Welsh government. A £38m spending programme has recently been agreed for 2015/16 to help continue funding the work.

    The scale of the current spending programme has allowed a variety of Community Benefit schemes to be set up across the County Borough. These are set to continue to grow over the next 4 years as the works programme continues.

    Over the last 12 months, Community Benefit schemes in Wrexham have resulted in:

    – 114 weeks of work experience provided;

    – 36 employees have been provided with short term employment;

    – 34 employees have been given long term employment;

    – £63,197 has been donated as cash or in-kind to organisations or projects within Wales.

    Wrexham County Borough Council’s Lead Member for Housing, Councillor Ian Roberts commented, “It’s vitally important that our local economy is able to benefit from the extensive work being carried out on our social housing stock. It’s great to see the positive contributions which have been made to communities across Wrexham as a result of these schemes, and we are committed to ensuring this can continue as we work with our partners to achieve the Welsh Housing Quality Standard.”

    With youth unemployment remaining a huge local and national issue, Modern Apprenticeships are one of the significant success stories of the Community Benefit schemes in Wrexham.

    James Riley is one of 36 apprentices employed by contractors working in partnership with the housing department. Wrexham born James, 19 is currently completing an Apprenticeship scheme, specialising in painting and decorating for Novus Property Solutions. A Stoke based company, who also have an office on Wrexham’s Industrial Estate, and who are currently heavily involved with Wrexham Housing’s extensive Kitchens and Bathrooms replacement programme.

    The scheme has given James the chance to get into paid employment, receive on the job training, and focus his career path. “After I finished school, I did a BTECH in construction while working part time in a café,” explains James. “I still wasn’t completely sure what career I wanted to go for at that point. Then a relative suggested trying a Modern Apprenticeship. I found this one, managed to get the job, and it’s turned out to be a great move. Studying in college is one thing, but the advantage here is the experience you get from actually working on site with professional colleagues.” James’ Apprenticeship has also allowed him to take part in the international charity work that Novus Property Solutions are involved with, travelling to locations in Holland and Slovenia, and learning about the international construction industry. James was also highly commended in Novus Property Solutions’ Apprentice of the Year awards. “My Apprenticeship has helped me a lot in deciding where I want to go with my career,” explains James. “Once I’ve completed my NVQ here, I’m hoping to move onto a Level 3 HNC and progress from there.”

    Gareth Thomas

    Housing Press Officer

    Wrexham County Borough Council

    Gareth.thomas@wrexham.gov.uk

    www.wrexham.gov.uk

    www.twitter.com/wrexhamcbc

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