Building a bright future

WHEN I was 15, I dreamed of a career in the Marines.

Apprentice Damon Robinson is only 17 but is already proving himself as one of the skilled craftsmen of tomorrow.

WHEN I was 15, I dreamed of a career in the Marines. It sounded glamorous and exciting – but probably not that realistic.

And after taking part in an Outward Bound initiative by construction company Keepmoat Ltd, my feet are firmly on the ground.

As part of the programme, I took part in a variety of outdoor activities and interviews and as a result was lucky enough to be appointed an apprentice with Haslam Homes North East, part of Keepmoat.

After 18 months with Haslam Homes, I’m really enjoying my job and the responsibilities I’m given and am working towards my joinery Level 2 and 3 qualifications.

I’m still only 17 but know I’m lucky to have such a great opportunity and enjoy my working weeks:

Monday

I GET up on Monday morning at 7.30am so that I can be at the building site for 8am. Fortunately I live just over the road from Haslam Homes’ Mandale Park development, in Thornaby, near Stockton, where I work, so I can afford to have an extra few minutes in bed!

Arriving at 8am, we begin the day’s work. Dependent on the weather the schedule might change as if it’s wet it’s too unsafe for us to work on the roofs so we will work inside the properties.

Before lunch I will do a number of jobs from hanging doors to fitting skirting boards and flooring, with guidance and assistance from my supervisor.

We have a 10 minute break at 10am, another cup of tea – and a biscuit, of course! – and have chat and read the paper.

The day continues much the same, completing the joinery work within the properties to allow the next tradesmen in to do their work – the plumbers and painters and decorators.

Lunch is at 12.30, where we get half an hour to grab a bite to eat and read the paper. The afternoon finishes at 4.30pm, so I can be home before 4.45pm to have my tea, catch up with family, go to the gym and relax for the rest of the evening.

Tuesday

TODAY I am at Stockton Riverside College as part of my course. Every few weeks I am invited to the college to run through the course paperwork, complete the theoretical side of the training and discuss any issues with my tutors.

It is also a nice opportunity to meet other students who are doing the same course. The day starts at 8am and I get stuck into the paperwork. I usually get home at 4.45pm.

Wednesday

TODAY in addition to our usual workload we are preparing for a visit from our health and safety team.

This involves ensuring that everyone has the correct equipment and safety clothing and that it is being used/worn correctly. The site team is not unduly worried as there are strict health and safety procedures in place, which all staff adhere too – it’s in our own interest.

After lunch I am involved in helping to fit the kitchen units and cupboards – this is when the room really starts to take shape.

At 2pm the health and safety team visit and are pleased with the site and the conduct of the site team.

For the remainder of the day I am working on the properties’ roofs and first fixings, that is stud walls.

Thursday

TODAY I have an external assessor visit the site to see how I am progressing on my course.

He will be assessing my work and will chat to my supervisor so that he can ensure that I am meeting the criteria of the course.

As part of the assessment I had to explain my responsibilities and demonstrate my work. The rest of the day is filled with fitting the kitchen units and stud walls and assisting my supervisor.

Friday

AGAIN up at 7.30am and in work for 8am. By filling out our detailed timesheets on site we can ensure that all completion and delivery deadlines are met.

I also have a meeting with my supervisor to discuss my assessment yesterday and highlight any areas for improvement.

Today with it being Friday, we have a bit of a treat – we go to the local butchers for lunch for a hot sandwich.

The afternoon is filled by fitting stairs and banisters.

3.30pm comes and it’s time for the weekend.

At the end of the week I do have a great feeling of achievement – I really feel I’ve created something.

We take a pride in our work. And it’s exciting seeing people move into a home which I know I’ve helped to build. Who knows, I might be buying one of my own one day!

Damon Robinson is an apprentice joiner with Haslam Homes North-East which is delivering 600 new homes to the region each year. For more information, tel: (0191) 487 3800 or go to www.haslamhomes.co.uk

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