Former homeless man, Stephen Baker, has been given a second chance by a career opportunity with the shelter he used to reside in.
Seven years ago Steven, aged 20 at the time, was unemployed and took up residence in Swindon's young people's shelter Stonewater. Whilst staying in the shelter Steven applied for an NVQ Level 2 Apprenticeship in Business Administration back in 2010 and now works as a Foyer Project Assistant at Stonewater, assisting young and vulnerable people.
Stonewater also manages just over 31,500 homes across England which provides a range of services from supported living schemes for older people and women's refuges, and allocating affordable housing for young and vulnerable people.
Steven said: "I had just been made redundant from my construction job, so they took me into the Foyer’s training room to have a look at some possibilities and the option of doing a business administration apprenticeship for Stonewater came up. It was a complete change from my last job – which was in building and construction – and I was absolutely petrified at first! But I did like the change."
“Stonewater has put me through a few training and career development courses, ranging from telephone skills to system training, which have really helped me move my career forward. The skills have all been transferrable and I’m now really handy with a lot of things at Stonewater – especially the computers.
“I’ve had so much support from the organisation to get to where I am now. A lot of the help has come from my managers who really have guided me, particularly Michelle our Business Change Lead. She took me in, even though I had no skills or anything, and helped me get to where I am today.
“My apprenticeship has also definitely helped me. I had no office skills when I started and now I’m really handy with a lot of things at Stonewater and have a good understanding of how the business works. I’ve picked up so many life skills along the way and its helped me mature as a person. I really like this job and feel like I’m quite good at it, so I want to stay."
Working full-time at Stonewater Steven now lives with his partner, Ellie, and two-year-old son Noah. He added: “I do think apprenticeships are important. Most jobs want you to already have some experience, so apprenticeships are a great way of getting into what you want to do straight away. It’s good because it’s sort of a staged way of going into working full-time.
“I would 100% recommend apprenticeships to anyone - if anyone has the opportunity they should grab it with both hands. I did, and I’ve now been here eight years. Stonewater’s given me a real jump and has helped nurture me into the person that I am today. They even helped me find and move into my own Stonewater property, so I really do owe them a lot.
“I don’t have any solid future plans; I just want to continue working onwards and upwards really until I reach the top. I would quite like to become a Specialist Coach at the Swindon Foyer, and be involved in providing support and guidance to young and vulnerable people living there. I want to give something back really and show that everyone has potential – you just have to bring it out."
For further information about Stonewater visit www.stonewater.org