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Unity apprentices on road to success after Kickstart to careers

Leeds-based housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise have recruited two apprentices after successful placements through the Kickstart scheme.

Samit Miah and Ben Coultas will also complete Level 3 Business Administration NVQs whilst developing their workplace skills as full-time Unity employees.

Both impressed during six-month Kickstart stints with Unity, Samit in the Finance Department and Ben with the Regeneration Team.

Funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, Kickstart was open to individuals aged 16-24 who were claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.

Samit and Ben were selected following a rigorous selection process concluding with a panel interview.

They were appraised throughout their period on the scheme including regular meetings with line managers from Unity’s Employment Services Team, to review progress and identify training needs.

Samit said: “My first impressions of the apprenticeship were of familiarity, working in the same department with the same colleagues, but with a twist of greater maturity having transitioned from a part-time role to a full-time position with substantial responsibility.

“The support I have received includes training and development for my new tasks and responsibilities, as well as support for my studies in the form of flexibility from both the educational institute and Unity on personal and role-related duties.

“Since starting the apprenticeship, I feel more involved within the association as I work much closer with existing colleagues. This has taken me across the final steps towards getting accustomed to the real working lifestyle I will need later in my career.”

Ben said: “I was welcomed by all the Unity staff from the very first moment, with everyone being friendly and willing to try to get to know me.

“I received help and support with training courses such as communication skills and Excel, alongside learning about the processes and different situations the Development Team come across and must find solutions for.

“The Kickstart opportunity helped build my confidence back after the pandemic and gave me the chance to get back into work where I feel happy. Working for an organisation that wants to make a difference to people’s lives and improving opportunities for the local communities also gives me a purpose.”

Wayne Noteman, Unity Regeneration Director, said: “Samit and Ben have done excellent work since joining Unity and it is tremendous to offer them apprenticeships with us.

“The blend of workplace experience, bespoke training and the opportunity to gain Level 3 Business Administration NVQs offers a clear route map to career progression.

“Samit and Ben come from local communities where Unity operates on a daily basis, and both can act as pioneers for other young people who wish to follow a similar path to full-time employment.

“Through Kelly and Lorraine in our Employment Services team, we are proud to be playing a lead role in identifying individuals with the talent, willingness to learn and determination to succeed in the world of work.”

Cedric Boston, Unity Chief Executive, said: “It has been inspiring to follow the progress Samit and Ben have made.

“Unity’s activities are rooted in local communities and our social purpose is focused on helping individuals and families improve their lives by creating opportunities they might not otherwise access.

“Samit and Ben have shone brightly since coming to us via the Kickstart scheme and continue to do so as apprentices.

“I look forward to seeing them develop further in the months ahead.”

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From left to right: Unity Employment Outreach Officers Kelly Jennings and Lorraine Charlton with apprentices Ben Coultas and Samit Miah

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Unity Housing Association was formed in 1987 with the objective of building a strong, BME-led, community housing association to address the needs of black and minority ethnic communities in Leeds. The initial focus was on Chapeltown, but this has widened to other areas of the city including Harehills, Beeston, Holbeck, Chapel Allerton and Pudsey. Alongside two schemes in Huddersfield, a new affordable housing development has recently been completed in Cleckheaton. With a turnover of £6.8 million and an annual investment in new and existing homes of around £6.5 million, Unity now manages over 1,350 properties for tenants from all communities and ethnic backgrounds. In 2000 the association established its not-for-profit subsidiary company, Unity Enterprise, to support local entrepreneurial activity. It now provides 142 affordable business units for more than 80 diverse businesses across three centres in Leeds. Unity Employment Services (UES) was set-up in 2011 to support Unity tenants and their surrounding communities in accessing employment and training opportunities. It has since supported more than 1,700 individuals into work and training.

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