New opportunities at HFS for town’s youth

Matt Murray receives his final Apprenticeship certificate from Dan Shelley of Sussex Coast College Hastings, along with other apprentices
Matt Murray receives his final Apprenticeship certificate from Dan Shelley of Sussex Coast College Hastings, along with other apprentices

A SOCIAL enterprise has created new opportunities for unemployed young people to train as part of the Own Grown campaign.

Hastings Furniture Service (HFS) is offering 30 ‘pre-apprenticeship’ places for those aged 16-17 who are not at school or college and want to get into paid employment.

The organisation leads the L-earn partnership of social enterprises in East Sussex, which provides paid part-time work in local charities and social enterprises alongside training provided by Finding Futures, a St Leonards-based group that helps young people into work.

Matt Murray, from Hastings, was the first to finish the HFS programme by completing a 12-month level 2 apprenticeship, and has stayed with the organisation.

Naomi Ridley, chief executive of HFS, said: “Matt’s 100 per cent attendance, hard work and positive attitude impressed us so much we were delighted to be able to offer him our first ever apprenticeship place. We were sure he would put in the hard work to succeed. He’s been a real asset to our charity, helping collect and deliver furniture for our customers and serve people in our store. Matt has become a core part of our team.”

HFS worked in partnership with Sussex Coast College to provide the on-site training for Matt’s apprenticeship.

The charity needs furniture and electrical goods in good working condition for local low-income families. Collections in Hastings and Rother are free of charge and can be booked by calling 01424 441112.

The Own Grown campaign was launched last month and its goal is to get 1,066 pledges from companies to help young people in a multitude of ways over the next year.

Businesses can help those under 18 and school leavers in a variety of ways, such as talks at schools about working and developing a career, offering help with CV writing and interview techniques, helping with student projects, such as the engineering challenges, workplace visits and work experience, as well as mentoring a student through regular meetings or support for a young person setting up a new business or self-employment.

Employers can pledge support via www.owngrown.org.uk, emailing owngrown@hastings.gov.uk or ringing 01424 451795.