Trainees help with spruce-up

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TRAINEES have taken their first steps onto the ladder of a career in building thanks to a new project.

The project, which is supported by East Durham Area Action Partnership, East Durham Homes (EDH) and Kier, aims to improve the appearance of communities and provide job opportunities for young people living in Peterlee.

A consultation carried out in 2008 by East Durham Homes addressed issues surrounding the general appearance and neglect of the external parts of the Braithwaite Road and Matterdale Road areas.

EDH, which is responsible for all council-owned homes in the former District of Easington council area, successfully achieved a two-star rating in 2009 and was able to access the additional cash from central government to ensure all homes meet the decent homes standard.

As well as improving people’s homes, EDH recognises that environmental works to improve estates is important to residents and has been able to allocate £160,000 from its improvement funding to the project to match fund a £168,000 contribution from councillors on Durham County Council.

Young trainees from the area have been drafted in to undertake the work, a stipulation by Coun Audrey Laing, Coun Gordon Tennant, Coun Barbara Sloan and Coun Ralph Liddle, from whose budget the funding came from.

East Durham Area Action Partnership is supporting the project and a range of traineeships have been supported including youth work, engineering and the environment.

Organisers say all have proved successful and posts have been offered to all engineering trainees.

Councillor Brian Stephens, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “This is a fantastic project which provides support right where it’s needed.

“A helping hand on to the job ladder is even more valuable now than it ever has been and gives these trainees a brilliant start to their careers.”

Work will be managed by EDH and carried out by Kier, which is one of the maintenance partners involved in the decent homes work, and Durham County Council’s Direct Services will be responsible for street lighting.

Trainees will be used on both internal and external works and any highway work will be undertaken by Direct Services in line with council policies.

Four trainees have been employed by Kier and trained at East Durham College Academy to a level two NVQ in bricklaying and joinery.

Michael Doyle, EDH director of neighbourhood services, said: “We are really pleased to be supporting this project as it shows we are listening to what our customers say by helping to improve estates, and by working with the local councillors and our partners we are also able to provide training opportunities for young people from the area.”