Swale Heating honoured for supporting the young jobless

Swale Heating has been presented with an award for its dedication to supporting the local community

The company, one of the largest independently-owned heating services firms in the South East, was honoured at AmicusHorizon’s first-ever annual Giving Back awards in the ‘Supporting Trainees and Apprenticeships’ category. The awards were held to recognise the support given by contractors and suppliers in helping the housing association’s residents into training, apprenticeships and sustainable jobs.

Swale Heating has given AmicusHorizon’s Giving Back initiative its full support since the scheme was launched in April 2012, ploughing more than £341,000 into a wide range of projects to help the community.

These have included recruiting plumbing and business admin apprentices; hosting and running short-term plumbing appreciation courses; offering work placements to residents in conjunction with Jobcentre Plus, Sustainable Sheppey and AmicusHorizon; and providing free basic plumbing courses for AmicusHorizon residents.

Swale Heating’s latest scheme, developed by the company’s Contact Centre, is already helping unemployed Swale residents get back into work

Contact Centre Operations Manager Jamie Monk says: “We’re working alongside Jobcentre Plus and AmicusHorizon to specifically target young people who have been struggling to get a job because of lack of experience.

“We’ve been targeting 18- to 21-year-olds and offering them training and certifications in customer service, so that we can give them six months in a stable job to put on their CVs. They can then either progress internally at Swale Heating or move on to find employment elsewhere,” adds Jamie.

“We’ve already brought in six people who are now starting e-Learning courses about the fundamentals of customer service, which is an essential skill in today’s world.”

One new recruit who is benefiting from Swale Heating’s latest scheme is 18-year-old Charlotte Smith, who says: “To have a job at the same time as being able to do the scheme meant that I could earn a decent salary and learn at the same time. Here I’m in a safe environment where I feel comfortable asking questions, as this is all very new to me."

“There is so much to understand, not just about the job we do but about customer service, but Swale Heating gives me the time to learn and lots of training. I thoroughly enjoy it. There is so much I never knew about and it’s really exciting!”

Rhys Kenten joined Swale Heating through a similar Giving Back scheme in 2013. He was one of five candidates to be offered a six-month paid work placement through a joint initiative between Swale Heating, AmicusHorizon, Sustainable Sheppey (funded by Big Lottery) and Jobcentre Plus.

“I started as a contract assistant on a six-month paid contract with the opportunity for full-time employment if I performed well,” says Rhys, who joined Swale Heating at the age of 18 after being out of work for just over a year.

“The job centre asked me to apply for the Giving Back scheme as they thought it was a good opportunity,” adds the 21-year-old. “At the time I had a negative attitude towards work, as most ‘typical teenagers’ do, but I applied for the sake of it and I’m glad I did. The scheme gave me everything I needed, from interview techniques to helping me buy formal interview attire."

“It may sound a bit over dramatic but the scheme actually helped me sort my life out. I went from sitting around every day playing Xbox and having nothing to show for myself to working full time, passing my driving test and getting the motivation I needed to want to succeed. Since starting I’ve been promoted to a full contract administrator."

“I’m thankful for the scheme. If the job centre, Swale Heating and Amicus didn’t team up to make this happen then I and others would still be out of work.”

Jamie Monk adds: “It’s very rewarding to be able to give people like Rhys and Charlotte the chance to make a career for themselves. Swale Heating has always been committed to making a positive contribution to the local community so we’re proud to support AmicusHorizon’s Giving Back scheme.”