Cuckfield scheme helps trainee ‘change path’

Building Heroes takes former servicemen and young people without jobs and gives them practical skills for the workplace. Adam Barnes at work. Pic Steve Robards SUS-150217-133611001
Building Heroes takes former servicemen and young people without jobs and gives them practical skills for the workplace. Adam Barnes at work. Pic Steve Robards SUS-150217-133611001

A scheme to train the young, unemployed, offenders or ex-armed services for the workplace has kicked off successfully.

Building Heroes, a charity at the former site of Court Meadow School on Hanlye Lane, Cuckfield, has taken on five trainees in its first programme.

Four of them have already found work to follow their training.

Adam Barnes, 22, was part of a Building Heroes team painting and plastering at Warden Park Primary Academy in Haywards Heath last week.

He was recently convicted of possession of an offensive weapon, and is due to serve community service.

Building Heroes has taken him on, and since learning new skills he is due to start an apprenticeship with a Cuckfield builder once he finishes the scheme.

“I wanted to learn skills. I’m doing a bit of painting, learning joinery, how to plaster, and other basic skills,” he said.

“And I’m going on to do an apprenticeship for kitchen fitting.”

He added he would ‘100 per cent’ recommend the course as it helps the community for free and has helped get into the trade industry.

CEO Brendan Williams said: “Our early focus has been on unemployed young adults and we have been able to offer our full training course to kids from across Sussex.

“We currently have five trainees and four of them have already been able to find jobs after they leave us, we are still working on the fifth so we are confident our program is hitting the spot.

“Beyond this cohort demand remains strong with people who have heard about us.”

Building Heroes has ties with half way houses and a youth offenders service.

“We are very much seen by them as a way to change path for a homeless youth or offender,” Brendan said.

Philamena Smith, from Burgess Hill, has bagged two weeks work experience with The Bell Group in painting and decorating since joining the scheme.

“It’s hard for teens to get a good job. You learn new skills here. You get a good thing at the end of it,” she said.

“If you’ve got no qualifications or anything, you have to start at the bottom to get to the top. I would definitely do it again.”

Tutor at the scheme Tony Christoforou explained she has excelled in plumbing. Philamena said this should help her in the world of work, being able to add extra skills to her CV.

Building Heroes works on community projects, such as Warden Park, for free, giving trainees work experience.

Tony added: “It’s for the benefit of the community, and they get good work experience.”

Building Heroes is yet to welcome service leavers due to a delay in availability of the residential block they will live in during training.

The scheme is also looking at ways to tie in with the Police and Crime Commissioners office ‘as a form of sentencing option for a youngster who might have slipped just once’, the CEO explained.