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Crawley teen secures apprenticeship after gas engineer visits home to do boiler repair

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Left to right: Shashil Perkash, Ali Merrouche and Barry Edwards

A Crawley teenager couldn’t believe his luck after securing an apprenticeship during lockdown after a Liberty engineer visited his parents home to repair a boiler.

Gas engineer, Shashil Perkash, was undertaking the repair work in June as part of Liberty’s gas servicing and maintenance contract with Crawley Homes.

During the works, he learnt from the customer, that her son, Ali Merrouche had just completed his NVQ levels 1 and 2 for plumbing but was struggling to find an employer that would provide him with hands on experience while he was continuing his qualifications.

She explained that 19-year-old Ali needed an apprenticeship but that it was a challenging time as no one was hiring because of the coronavirus pandemic.

During the conversation, Shashil began sharing his experiences working for Liberty and the flexibility and opportunities that are offered to staff. He suggested that Ali bring his CV up to date and encouraged him to send it to him so that he could share it with Liberty’s contract team.

Keeping to his word, Shashil forwarded Ali’s CV to Liberty’s contracts manager Carl Himsworth for Crawley Homes and they both agreed that he would be a good candidate for an apprenticeship with the team once a role became available.

Ali Merrouche

In September 2020, this became a reality. An apprentice vacancy opened up and Ali was invited to an interview and was successful in being offered the job.

Ali said:

“I couldn’t believe my luck when an appointment to get our boiler repaired opened the door for me to secure an apprenticeship with Liberty. It was a really difficult time over the summer to be doing plumbing qualifications.  The practical experience I needed wasn’t easy to gain because of the pandemic. 

“When Shashil told me about Liberty’s approach and offered to help me, I knew this was the kind of company that I wanted to work for and I’m so grateful to him for the support he’s given me. I’m now in a permanent role with Barry Fidler who is an experienced engineer, as my mentor and getting the on the job experience I need to become fully qualified. I’m really excited for what the future holds working for Liberty.”

Councillor Ian Irvine, Cabinet member for Housing at Crawley Borough Council, said:

“This is a great story and just shows that opportunity can knock when you least expect it! I wish Ali all the best as he embarks on his career working in our properties with Liberty.”

This National Apprenticeship Week, Liberty are committing to ensuring five percent, that’s around 50, of their workforce will be apprentices.

They currently have 52 apprentices on board and Liberty are part of the 5% Club, a dynamic movement of employers committed to building and developing the workforce they need as part of a socially mobile, prosperous and cohesive nation.

Liberty provide day-to-day gas repairs, annual safety check and out of hours work, as well as planned boiler and heating system replacements to Crawley Borough Council’s housing stock. 

This is delivered through an 11-year contract worth £34.3 million. The contract began in early 2019.

Liberty specialises in the full range of property services including reactive and planned maintenance across all technical disciplines, refurbishments, mechanical and electrical projects, construction and renewable energy.

For more information visit www.liberty-group.co.uk

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Looking for a space to run your small business or community group? Crawley hospital is offering rooms for hire

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NHS Open Space, a service launched by NHS Property Services (NHSPS), has expanded its portfolio to over 700 rooms across 100 sites nationwide, with 7 new spaces available at Crawley Hospital.

Offering clinical and non-clinical spaces for hire on an hourly or daily basis, with greater flexibility at an affordable price, this expansion will help the organisation towards its aim of making better use of NHS space and enabling excellent patient care.

Health and wellbeing providers looking for alternative and flexible ways to deliver services in their community can now choose from 700 clinical and non-clinical rooms nationwide, ranging from examination rooms, to group activity spaces, to offices.

In addition, small business owners and community groups can use these spaces, allowing them to book rooms only for the length of time they need, easing pressure on finances and enabling them to be more flexible during these unpredictable times. New services will join a community of over 1,000 users who have so far made 125,000+ bookings, accounting for more than 700,000 hours of patient service delivery. Income made from NHS Open Space bookings will be reinvested back into the health service for the benefit of patients and to help support the NHS.

“We recognise that the last year has been challenging for many healthcare providers, small businesses and community groups. We hope that NHS Open Space will help to provide a flexible and affordable option for those who are looking to continue or get back to work in the coming months,” said Christopher King, Principal Strategic Asset Manager at NHSPS.

“Safety continues to be our number one priority; our customers and patients can feel safe in the knowledge that all available sites are cleaned and maintained to the highest of safety standards.”

The programme is set to continue to grow throughout the year, with further expansions planned for Autumn and Winter. Throughout the pandemic, spaces have remained open for use, ensuring providers could safely continue to offer support to patients. NHS Open Space also supported the NHS in providing space for the COVID-19 vaccination programme, with over 1,500 bookings relating to COVID-19 services since December 2020.

Ruth Todd, Clinical Assistant at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has used NHS Open Space to keep her Diabetes service running during the pandemic.

“With every booking I can be confident that the room will be set up, clean and ready to go – even more important this year as infection control is our top priority. This has helped me and my patients return to NHS sites when remote consultations aren’t possible, making sure my patients get the support they need during these uncertain times.”

Sarah Meredith, Immunisation Nurse as Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, has found the transparency and support helpful as she moves from one booking to the next.

“Once an NHS Open Space room is booked on my behalf, I get an email with all the details I need. As a busy clinician I have found it really useful to get a definite confirmation prior to a clinic that I would have a room to work from. When I’ve had any questions or issues it’s soon been resolved by the efficient on-site staff.”

To find out more about NHS Open Space and the properties and rooms on offer in your area, visit: https://www.openspace.nhs.uk/.

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