Author Archives: Bolton at Home admin

Melanie’s placement – “I can see my future in a trade”

Melanie stands by new fencing

Melanie Smith liked the idea of doing something different and so when a full time paid placement as a labourer came up she jumped at the chance.

The 30-year-old mother of one from Johnson Fold had been volunteering at her local UCAN centre, and is now six months into her new role with AGR – Bolton at Home’s fencing partner.

She said: “I’d never done such work before, but I wasn’t put off as I’d struggled to find work after having my little girl eight years ago.”

“I got straight into it. Digging holes, unloading vans and carrying wood. We can do as many as 10 houses on a good day. Even when it’s harder work in the mud and rain, everyone cheers each other up.”

“I’ve enjoyed it from the start. It’s local, so I’m involved in improving my lneighbourhood and it’s brilliant for my childcare.”

“Thanks to the support of my local UCAN centre, I can see my future in a trade.”

For more information on the pre-employment support we offer, please visit

Michael’s apprenticeship – “It felt great to win a national award”

Michael at work as an apprentice heating engineer

Coming from a long line of plumbers, Michael Steele always viewed it as a good thing to have a trade.

The 22-year-old has been doing a three-year apprenticeship as a heating engineer.

Last year Michael won the national ‘apprentice of the year’ award from the Direct Works Forum (DWF) for outstanding performance.

The DWF is the representative body for social housing providers who employ their own trades staff to undertake repairs and maintenance.

He said: “It felt great to win a national award.  It really doesn’t get much better than being considered the number one for something.  I’m grateful for all the support I’ve had from my colleagues, and tutors from my full time course at Bolton College.”

Michael added to his award collection just last week when he was named a joint winner of the best third year apprentice title at Bolton at Home for his attitude, ability and commitment.

He said: “I just love what I do.”

Yasmin’s apprenticeship – “Now I know that I’m going somewhere in my life”

Yasmin in her office

Yasmin Begum had long wanted to progress in life for herself and her young daughter, and make the best use of her skills to help people.

The 29-year-old, who speaks six languages, became a volunteer at Bolton at Home’s Deane UCAN Centre for six months.

This gave her the confidence she needed to begin a three-year housing apprenticeship with Bolton at Home, which she started in January.

She said: “I’m currently working in income management administration where I deal with customers and take rent payments.  I’m gaining valuable experience by working in different teams.”

“I’m also studying for an NVQ in housing which will be my first qualification in 20 years. 

“Now I know that I’m going somewhere in my life.”

Ashley’s apprenticeship – “It’s so diverse and my people skills have come a long way”

Ashley in front of the Tonge Moor UCAN Centre

20-year-old Ashley Walsh is five months into a four-year apprenticeship at our Tonge Moor UCAN Centre, where he’s helping visitors get to grips with computers and much more.

Alongside his work, he’s also studying at Bolton University for three days a week, where he’s hoping to complete a business management course, before moving on to take community studies.

Speaking about his apprenticeship, he said: “It’s really great.  My work has grown very quickly from helping people to search and apply for jobs online to responding to whatever they need when they come through the door.”

“It’s so diverse and my people skills have come a long way in a short space of time.”

“I’ve also been given the chance to deliver my own community projects, including an AQA accredited DJ training course at the Castle Hill Centre.  It’s great to have that kind of responsibility.”

Read Yasmin’s story tomorrow.


Our commitment to apprenticeships

This week is National Apprenticeship Week.  It marks the importance of investing in apprentices for personal career opportunities, business growth and the economy.

We have a strong tradition of employing and nurturing apprentices for the benefit of the wider community.

We currently have 74 apprentices, trainees and college placements across a broad range of trade, office and community roles as part of our on-going pledge to have at least five per cent of our workforce made up of apprentices.

Bolton at Home has always invested in apprentices.  We aim to offer first class apprenticeships, lasting between 12 months and four years, to equip people with the relevant skills and NVQ qualifications to gain permanent jobs at the end of their apprenticeship contracts.

We also offer pre-employment support for people of all ages in our neighbourhoods.  Many have found job success with us or others after taking part in work clubs, volunteering, or after getting support from their local UCAN centre.

We also ask our construction partners to take on apprentices or employ people from local neighbourhoods as part of new build developments and estate regeneration.

Our apprentices dedicate themselves to working hard for our customers, whether it’s improving their homes or being part of other valuable work we do in communities, and many go on to have long and rewarding careers with us.

We’ll publish daily blog posts featuring some of our apprentices’ stories over the next four days.  We start with Ashley’s story tomorrow.

Barrie Hurst, Bolton at Home’s Apprentice Coordinator