Stewart is studying a customer service apprenticeship at Bath College and working with The Genesis Trust. Three years ago, he came to the Genesis Furniture Project on a work placement organised by the Job Centre and stayed on as a volunteer. This led to his customer service apprenticeship.
Can you tell me about your apprenticeship?
I’m doing a year-long customer service apprenticeship working at the Genesis Trust Furniture Project and studying at Bath College one day a week.
The project provides household goods at affordable prices to people on low income or benefits. As a team, we go out in the van every day delivering items to people. We cover Bath and the surrounding area, including Warminster, Frome, Trowbridge and Westbury.
Every morning we check the phones to see if they have any messages and unload the van, which is full of donated items from the day before. After that, we load the van and go out with a team to deliver. People can come in and buy something from the shop floor (and if they want it delivered we can arrange that).
What was the route for you into an apprenticeship?
The Genesis Trust recommended becoming an apprentice. I knew what an apprenticeship was, but it wasn’t until someone suggested the idea to me that I decided to apply. I was volunteering with the Genesis Trust at the Furniture Project for three years when I had the opportunity to do an apprenticeship. It’s just to give me new skills and to give me something to put on my CV. My ideal job would be a van driver, but I’ve had no luck with this in the past. It’s all about getting better skills and building up my confidence.
You had a difficult time after leaving school, can you tell me a bit about this?
I had ADHD and I just didn’t get the support I needed at school. I struggled through my education and I walked out of school with no qualifications at the age of 16. I went to college to do catering and hospitality, but it wasn’t really for me and I left half way through the year.
I’ve had various short-term jobs working on farms and as a street cleaner, but after leaving education I went off the rails for a few years. Now I’m more mature. I’ve gained confidence through volunteering at the Genesis Trust and through my apprenticeship. Before that, I kept myself to myself so it has made a massive difference to my confidence levels.
How are you finding things so far on your apprenticeship?
It’s learning new skills and getting a wage. If you look at it like that, it’s a good thing. The people in this class at the college are friendly and we get on well.
At the Furniture Project, we have four members of paid staff and three to four volunteers. It’s quite a small team and I get on well with everyone. Every year we close down for staff training and have a team building day. We go bowling and get to know everyone better, which makes it easier to work with each other.
What’s the best bit about your apprenticeship?
I love helping people. When I grew up I didn’t get the support I needed. I like to give people support by delivering furniture so they don’t go the way I did – I know how much they need that help. If you haven’t got the money you need to buy basic things you get stressed out. We have all sorts of different customers, but it’s nice when someone says thank you for something you’ve been able to help with.
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