Daniel, 19 and Lejaih, 18 who both used to live at St Basils Edgwood House project in Edgbaston are two of the first group of apprentices to move into Hallam close, fully refurbished accommodation which makes use of former medical staff accommodation on Sandwell General Hospital’s site whilst taking up apprenticeships with Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust .
I met them after work in their flat. Lejaih was making herself dinner in the shared kitchen. They were both very eager to tell me how well this scheme is working for them.
Daniel: “I’m really enjoying it. It’s a good opportunity. Once you’ve got your foot in the door, there’s so many different paths you can take with the NHS. We’re doing a Level 2 in Health and Social Care Diploma Apprenticeship. It’s for a year and you get a qualification at the end of it. Then we can apply for other jobs.“
Lejaih: “Or it gives you the foundations to go to University to study nursing”.
Daniel: “We had to do the Rise training beforehand. That Rise [programme] was excellent. It wasn’t boring like some training and they gave us loads to eat. Most training, you don’t get that.”
Lejaih: “The interview was scary! It was with the Ward matron and the Learning and Development manager. She’s nice but I’d never done anything like it before, but that’s what Rise was for. It was all training for the interview and talking about what the role would be like, what to expect. This is my first proper job. I was on a Level 1 customer service course with a training provider before this”.
Daniel: “I had jobs before St Basils but when I was at Edgwood I wasn’t doing anything. But I’d worked out what I wanted to do. I mentioned it to Bernadette (Edgwood House Manager) and she told me about this course. I just said I want to do something that’s caring for people. I was lucky. I was in the right place at the right time”. After the Rise course we came to the open day here [at Hallam Close]. Seeing the accommodation is what motivated me to do it. It just feels like University accommodation here. It’s exactly the same.”
Lejaih: “Edgwood’s nice but you’ve got to share everything with everyone. There’s a lot of people and a lot of noise. The rooms are much bigger here too”.
Lejaih: “It’s easy to get into Birmingham too. The way I go is two buses but it only takes about 20 minutes”.
Daniel: “St Basils has helped us majorly. It was amazing to have such support at Edgwood. Some of the staff were brilliant, you could just talk to them for hours but I was just sat around doing nothing. We don’t see staff here really. We just get up and go to work, but that’s what normal is. It’s the freedom of living your own life. And I think the money is pretty good really”.
Lejaih: “The money we get is after rent. I like the fact that they just take it out before we get to it so you don’t have to worry about it”.
Daniel: “The job is just basic care, washing, feeding, helping the nurses, checking they’re ok. Just little things. It can be something as small as just making a cup of tea but it’s things that make a difference.”
Lejaih: “It’s just about making sure that they [the patients] are comfortable and not in any pain.”
Daniel: “Obviously their time in hospital is not going to be enjoyable – your job is to make it as enjoyable as possible.”
Lejaih: “I think we’ve learned patience on this job. It’s a big thing. Time keeping too”. Just before starting I was so scared but everyone’s been very kind and patient with us too. It’s really good”.
Daniel: “It is massive when you think about it. It’s not long ago we were sat in the Youth Hub, it was February for me, March for Lejaih, feeling like life was going nowhere and now we’re working for the NHS! When I first came to St Basils I was at rock bottom. It’s amazing to think that was this same year. Everything’s different now”.
Lejaih: “My message to other young people at St Basils is ‘Believe in yourself!’"
Daniel: “My message is just ‘Do this!’”.
We have not been able to use photos of Lejaih or Daniel in this feature because they asked for their identities to be protected