A young Teessider has revealed how a charity-funded apprenticeship has transformed his help after years of homelessness, substance misuse and mental health problems.
Martin Jones, from Stockton, says his apprenticeship as a painter and decorator for Community Campus 87 has made a “really massive difference” to his life.
The 24-year-old is one of six unemployed young people given apprenticeships with the social enterprise, funded by the biggest ever grant donation by charitable movement Teesside Philanthropic Foundation.
The Foundation’s £137,000 donation is fully funding five construction apprenticeships and one in housing administration at Community Campus.
They are now working on projects to convert disused Teesside properties into houses for the homeless.
Martin, who has also been provided with living accommodation by Community Campus, said: “The support’s amazing from Community Campus.
“I was in a bad way and my confidence was low. I couldn’t go out so I had to build my confidence back up.
“Community Campus did that for me, so they and the Philanthropic Foundation has made a really massive difference to my life.”
Simon Virth, service manager for Community Campus, said: “Martin had terrible anxiety and no self-confidence at all.
“He was encouraged to do some voluntary work with our construction team to give some purpose to his life and occupy his time to reduce his periods of poor mental health. This proved so positive that he was offered a painting and decorating apprenticeship.
“The level of support he needs tapered off as he has become a confident in providing his own solutions to any problems or difficulties he faces.
“He is determined to complete his apprenticeship and secure full-time employment as a fully qualified painter and decorator.”
Virth added: “These apprenticeships simply wouldn’t exist without the Philanthropic Foundation’s funding.
“The funding has created opportunities for these young people, giving them a trade and hopefully creating long-term jobs for them – without doubt the Foundation’s support is life-changing.”
Philanthropic Foundation patron Jayne Stephenson paid a visit to one of the homes the apprentices are helping to refurbish in Stockton to meet some of the young people whose lives the charity is helping to change.
She said: “It’s fantastic to see the funds provided by the Foundation having such a dramatic and positive impact on these young people.
“This was our biggest ever grant, made possible by a large anonymous donation to our charity, and its effect in changing the lives of Teessiders is everything our Foundation stands for.”
Other Community Campus apprenticeships being supported by the Philanthropic Foundation are for 19-year-olds Sam Kenny and Joel Pickford, both from Stockton, plus 20-year-old Jack Milburn, Shannon Bell, 18, and 16-year-old James Welsh, all from Middlesbrough.