Turning Your Life Around

By Curtis Jennings
Trainee with Hawkspear at Broughton, Chester, and New Mersey, Speke

07 Mar 2017

When I went to the Community Day with the McLaren construction team at British Land’s Broughton site, I’d been sending my CV out for months and getting nothing back. I needed a chance. A chance to show that I could leave the life I had been leading behind me, and do something good.

I’d been in and out of trouble for years. I left school aged 14 and ended up in care because I was off the rails and too much for my mum. My mum and I are close, but it was the way I was at the time. I went into prison as a young offender and was back there in my 20s. It was when I was released that time round, in June 2015, that I started calming down. 

I looked for work and managed to get a few days here and there with my uncle, doing roofing, and some work cleaning driveways. My Probation Officer, Emily, could see the changes and was praising me. But I wanted a job that was permanent, that was going somewhere; a job where I could make a good future.

Emily told me about a Community Day that the team was involved with at Broughton, Chester. It had been set up by the McLaren Site Manager, Stuart McCulloch (pictured right), to help young ex-offenders start careers in construction, supported by the construction site team and Broughton’s co-owner, British Land. At the end of the Community Day, there was a chance to get a job with Hawkspear Contracts, the groundworks and civil engineering contractor carrying out works at Broughton.

Ten of us took part in the session. We met with Stuart and Neil Rigby of Hawkspear, who talked to us about construction and safety and showed us around the site, giving us insights into everything. We did mock construction skills tests and put some of our new knowledge to the test, taking McLaren ‘Spot it, Shout it!’ cards on site, looking for potential hazards. 

We also met with McLaren’s HR Director, Tanya, who helped us with our CVs; and professional boxer and youth worker, Martin Murray, who talked about turning points in his life over lunch. Following this Community Day, we completed our CVs with a chance for an interview for those taking part. I was so ready to start work. When Stuart and Neil offered me the job at Broughton, I was nearly in tears. When I told my mum, she actually cried as I was finally getting a chance. 

Since starting work in August 2016, I’ve learned so much. The Hawkspear Site Supervisors, Wayne Ngiam and Kev Wilkinson, have put me with more experienced members of the team, and they’ve all really helped me progress. Now when I go onto a site, I can assess risks myself and know how to follow the safe systems. I know what to look out for and what equipment is required. I’ve learned to do block paving, install ducting and place concrete. 

It’s hard work but my aim is to learn something new every day. Some days I will learn something small, other days it’s big. Every day, I’m prospering myself and taking so much in. With the support of Neil, both in work and with my personal life, I’ve learned to earn the confidence of others; I’m now being trusted with tasks on my own too, thanks to Wayne’s influence on site. 

I’m also getting more qualifications as I continue to show willingness to learn, and I’m seeing the benefits of that outside work as well. Three weeks after qualifying to become Site First Aider, I walked off site and saw an old lady fall. She’d knocked herself out and, using the training I’d been given, I got her into the recovery position and made sure she was comfortable and safe until the ambulance arrived. The family came to see me to say thank you. It felt good. I’ve been given the chance to learn to drive site dumpers on another site, so I’ll get a full CPCS licence in the next few weeks. Then I want to work towards my digger licence. 

Eight months after joining the team, I took part in another Community Day at British Land’s New Mersey site in Speke, where I’m now working. I encouraged another group of ex-offenders and long term unemployed to grasp the chance to turn their lives around. Construction offers so many opportunities. There are lots of different paths and every day is exciting. It’s a career where you can prosper. 

I’m really excited about the future. I’ll be forever grateful to British Land, Hawkspear and McLaren for giving me a chance. They helped me turn my life around and put a smile back on my mum’s face.

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