Ben Coultas, a 23-year-old apprentice from Leeds, has won a prestigious national award for his selfless efforts in helping others on a job placement scheme for young people at risk of long-term unemployment.
Ben triumphed in the Peer to Peer Mentor category at the Clarion Kickstart Housing Partnership Awards held at Chelsea Football Club’s Stamford Bridge stadium in London.
Established by the Clarion Housing Group, the partnership comprises 84 organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors, with 58 from the housing sector.
They include Leeds-based housing association, Unity Homes and Enterprise, where Ben completed his placement and is now employed as a full-time apprentice in the Regeneration Department.
More than 500 individuals aged 16-24 year-olds were supported into paid six-month roles through the scheme.
Following a rigorous selection process, Ben was placed with Unity’s Regeneration team where he was able to access training courses including communication skills and Excel, and gain first-hand experience of the different processes and situations the team faced each day.
But that was not enough for Ben, one of five Kickstarters at Unity, who was determined to reach out to others on the scheme.
Kelly Jennings, Unity Employment Outreach Officers, said: “Ben showed great empathy and support towards fellow Kickstart colleagues, quickly gaining a reputation for his encouragement, dedication and positive attitude to those around him.
“This included assisting one Kickstarter with her application to university by helping her through the process and conducting interviews relevant to the course she had applied for.
“Throughout his placement, Ben also assisted the Employment Services team with our employability and training sessions.
“Nothing was ever too much trouble. He is a real star.”
Wayne Noteman, Unity Regeneration Director, said: “Ben has come on and developed so much in his time with Unity, both as a professional and a young man.
“First on the Kickstart scheme and now as an apprentice, giant strides have been made.
“I am so proud of him, his award is thoroughly deserved.
“Ben has a great future ahead in housing. I hope he stays with Unity where I know he will fulfil his enormous potential.”
Cedric Boston, Unity Chief Executive, said: “Unity takes immense pride in the work we do to reach out to the local community and create opportunities for local people to transform their life chances.
“Ben has not only grabbed his opportunity but gone the extra mile to help others as the judges have recognised by giving him this national award.
“Ben has an excellent career in prospect and can be a role model for others in the local community.”
Ben, who attended Lawnswood School in Leeds, said: “I am very proud to have won the award for Peer to Peer Mentor as I always try to support my colleagues where I can.
“The people who work at Unity and within my team have made it easy for me to be happy, knowing we all strive to make a difference in our communities.
“I hope to continue to achieve great things with Unity.”