Monthly Archives: March 2015

Community Engagement Project #BAC15

Hi guys Chelsea here again!

The Brathay Apprentice Challenge team members met at the Wyre Forest Sheltered Housing Scheme, Purcell House yesterday (Thursday 12th March) to complete our community engagement project.

We had a cake and coffee morning based around a ‘decorate your own cake’ theme. We also undertook a few tasks to improve the wellbeing of the tenants who live there.

Charlie our IT apprentice spent the morning in the IT room showing the tenants the basics of using the computers and helping them with anything they would like to know regarding IT.  This gave the residents a great opportunity to try out their new found skills.

Our 3 Grounds Maintenance Apprentices from Oakleaf Grounds Services were helping tenants plant vegetables into little pots for their flats. Whilst our 2 apprentices from Oakleaf Construction and Development built a raised planter box in the garden so the tenants can plant and look after their vegetables in there when the weather is better.

As well as the IT support they received and the grounds work that was completed we also built various pieces of garden furniture for their summer house, so they have somewhere nice to sit on a sunny day.

The morning went extremely well and the feedback we received was excellent, the tenants were very appreciative of the time we spent at Purcell House and the services we provided. As an added extra we have decided to donate a printer to the scheme as theirs has been broken for some time, this went down very well with the tenants. Here’s some pictures from the event;

community engagement project

community engagement project

community engagement project

Thanks for reading.

Take care,



Richard Lavelle and Reece Marchant Job Shadow #BAC15

On Tuesday 10th March 2015, Reece Marchant a pupil from Baxter College School, Kidderminster spent the day shadowing Richard Lavelle, Grounds Maintenance Apprentice.

Reece got first-hand experience during his day in the life of a Grounds Maintenance Apprentice and was keen to get stuck in and help Richard out.

Reece said this about his day “Spending the day with Richard was great because I got to help him tidy up the grounds in the local area. Its given me a good idea of what I want to do when I leave school”

Richard & Reese



Baxter College Event Feedback

Hey everyone, Abbey here;

On Monday 9th March 2015 I met with five of the pupils that attended our Careers event last week, to gain some feedback on the event and what we could do to help them understand Apprenticeships further.

The feedback we received was great; a lot of positives and the school were very appreciative of the hard work that went into organising and delivering the event.

What did you enjoy about the event?

We really liked that you could interact with the stands so it wasn’t just every stand giving you information you did get to have a go at different kinds of things. Also there was a good variety of activities and stands to visit. We also really enjoyed the Keepmoat Construction stand; it was good to work in a team to build something and also to win the prizes.

What could we do to improve the Event in the future?

Maybe include some interactive stands for office apprentices. There were a lot of different things to do for construction and grounds etc. but not much for the general apprentices. Also it would be good to have a bit more time on the interactive stands so everyone in the group gets to have a go at the activity.

We think we could still benefit from more detailed information about apprenticeships so we can understand what is it included and how to actually get an apprenticeship. Also the interactive stands were fun but maybe they could include a bit more information along with the activity.

Is there anything else we could do for you to help your understanding of apprenticeships? Perhaps we could revisit your school with some more information.

Yes that would be really helpful and you could help explain how we could go about applying for an apprenticeship and show us where the best place is to look for vacancies; also go into more detail about what the pros and cons are for apprenticeships.

Baxter Feedback

We’ve taken on board the feedback we received and are now organising a year 9 assembly. This will give us another opportunity to talk to the pupils about apprenticeships to give them more information as requested.

More updates on the different events and activities that are happening or have happened this week coming soon!

Thanks for reading,

Speak soon,


Harry Yates and Andy Snowden Job Shadow #BAC15

Andy Snowden, student at Baxter College has spent the day working with one of our Brathay Challenge team members Harry Yates. Andy has used this opportunity to get first-hand information from Harry about Apprenticeships as he is keen to start his career in Grounds Maintenance as an Apprentice when he finishes school.

Andy said this about his day with Harry “I don’t really like school and I find it hard to concentrate. Being out with Harry I’ve learnt so much more by being able to get involved and have a go, but I’ve now realised if I want to get an Apprenticeship then I need to knuckle down at school. Harry has given me advice on how he became an Apprentice and talked to me about his working day. I am pretty sure that this is what I want to do next”

Harry and Andy

Baxter College Business Class Event #BAC15

Hello everyone, well what a 24 hours it’s been!

Yesterday we held our Business Class, Baxter College Event which was a huge success!

The event involved 75 Year 9 students visiting The Community Housing Group’s Head Office in groups of 15 to find out about the Careers and Apprenticeships we have on offer.

The event started with a brief introduction and promotion of National Careers Week, along with what to expect from the day and the structure of the event.  Pupils were split into groups where they had the opportunity to visit a variety of interactive stands.  We had everything from ‘hitting the nail in the wood’ competition to ‘planting your own vegetables’ and having a go on a ‘falls response cushion’.

Keepmoat were also in attendance at our event and we hope in the future our partnership with Keepmoat will create further opportunities for apprentices in the construction industry.

The event proved to be extremely popular with the students, especially those that won prizes from the various competitions.  All the students were able to list three benefits of apprenticeships at the end of the event too.

We will be going back to Baxter College on Monday 9th March to catch up with the students and to get some feedback from the event.

See below pictures from the event;

Business Class

Business Class

P.s -Don’t forget our Community Project at Purcell House is exactly a week today – see you there!

Thanks for reading; catch up again soon.

Evie – Team Leader

Harry Yates – My Story #BAC15

Hey everyone, Harry here

I’ve taken control of the blog this week so I thought I’d share my story with everyone. I joined The Community Housing Group (TCHG) almost a year ago, as an apprentice in ground’s maintenance for Oakleaf Grounds Services based in Kidderminster, and wow, doesn’t time fly?

I’ll be honest with you; I never really knew what I wanted to do after finishing my GCSE’s but my school persuaded me to stop on at 6th form to take A-levels.  I did struggle at school but I put in the hard work and managed to achieve five A-C’s in GCSE. I did feel that my A-levels were a bit of a waste of time in my opinion, but it did give me time to figure things out.

I always knew I wanted to do something useful that would help me gain life experience both at and outside of work.  Still undecided I went to Bromsgrove College to take up an IMI recognised course in motor vehicle repair.  I completed two years study reaching Level 2.  I did enjoy it, but after missing a lot of study due to health reasons and not being able to find a much needed work experience placement; I felt it would not be an appropriate route to continue.

My part time job in a well known food retailer, kept me afloat for a good seven years throughout. It was a stressful job at times, but gave me life experience in the running of a business and dealing with people.  However, I wasn’t prepared to settle for that for the rest of my working life.

I knew I needed something that would get me into a new industry without needing extensive amounts of experience.  An apprenticeship was the only option that made sense, and after searching through many apprentice vacancies online, I took a chance with ‘Oakleaf Grounds Services’ part of TCHG, it was something local which I felt I’d be competent with realistically.

I’d heard of Oakleaf Commercial Services and I’d seen their vans driving around a lot. I also noticed they had an ‘Investors in People Award – Gold’ which to me showed that they were willing to develop and take an interest in their employees.

As for being suited to the role, I had always enjoyed working in the garden at home in my spare time, and helping out on new projects with my dad.  From designing and laying a patio and driveway, to removing trees and relaying turf; I never minded putting in the labour to achieve something that would look great and serve better as an end result. About a month after my application was sent, I was thrilled when I received news of an interview with Kevin Beard, Senior Supervisor of the Oakleaf Grounds team Kidderminster, and Karen Lowry-Hall, Learning and Development Manager at Vestia Community Trust.

As you can probably guess I wouldn’t be here writing this now if it wasn’t for their decision to accept me. I was so pleased to be offered the chance to learn new skills and experience in a growing organisation, whilst studying towards a Level 2 Diploma in Work Based Horticulture.

Since joining Oakleaf Grounds Services I have undertaken numerous training courses and have been given a lot of opportunities, which in turn have made me feel like I’ve become an accepted member of the team.

One of my biggest personal achievements so far is how much my confidence has grown. A year ago I would have shied away to do something like the ‘Brathay Apprentice Challenge’, but I see it as an opportunity to work with new people, gain extra confidence, and possibly make some new friends along the way.

Thanks for reading.

Best wishes,


Leaflet Drop

Hey everyone, its Richard here,

Yesterday, Monday 2nd March 2015 myself and Harry conducted a leaflet drop at our Sheltered Housing Schemes.

The leaflet was an invitation for our residents, inviting them to attend our community project for #BAC2015 on Thursday 12th March 2015.

Richard and Harry Leaflet Drop

Preparations for the community project are now well underway and the team is raring to go!

Shortly Harry will be posting a blog on his story, keep an eye out for it as it’s a great read!

Thanks for reading!

Speak soon,


#BAC15 Team Meeting – Wednesday 25th February 2015

Hello everyone, H here…

I thought I’d provide you with an update on how well our progress meeting went at Community House last Wednesday (25th February).

There is just over a month left before our final portfolio submission, and things are in full swing at the moment with everyone working hard to pull everything together.

The main focus of our meeting last week was spent discussing setting-up and the final preparations for the community engagement event with Baxter College on the 4th of March.

In summary; it will be an all day event and consists of a number of individual stalls with some practical activities showcasing different sectors of The Community Housing Group (TCHG) to give the pupils an understanding and overview of who we are, and an idea of what apprenticeships we have to offer; especially ours.  I promise to take some photos so you can share our experience.

Also, our community engagement event over at Purcell House (Wyre Forest Sheltered Housing) is on the horizon, with the event day itself taking place on the Thursday 12th March. If you’re free on that day, feel free to pop up and see us, have a chat and maybe have a cheeky cake or two. In other news, we also plan to take part in the ‘World of Work’ event’ at King Charles on Friday 20th March, and another event to be held at Worcester Warriors training ground on Wednesday 18th of March, which a couple of us will be attending.

Thanks for reading, keep following us on twitter @tchgroup and checking back here for regular updates.

See you soon,