Richard, aged 52, has lived at Arlington for the past seven months. However, he has stayed in several other hostels before arriving at Arlington in December 2011, owing to a breakdown in family relationships a few years ago.

Richard was amongst the first group of trainees to successfully complete the two year apprenticeship programme, run by the Building Lives Academy, one of Arlington’s social economy partners. He enrolled on the Building Lives programme when it launched in 2010 and completed the taster courses in Carpentry and Plumbing before moving on to the NVQ Level 2 in Carpentry.

When Richard was at school, he always wanted to pursue a career in the building industry. He did a few general construction and painting and decorating jobs after he left school, but never achieved any formal qualifications.

He admits that he did not excel at Carpentry as a school pupil and saw the apprenticeship scheme as an opportunity to learn new skills in the trade. While on the Carpentry course, Richard also worked on improving his reading and writing skills on the Level 1 Literacy course.

Richard has now gained his qualifications and also has a CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card which demonstrates his competence to work on a building site. Despite his mature age, Richard remains optimistic about securing employment and has registered with an agency to try and get a job.

His determination and commitment is a real inspiration for other Arlington customers and Richard hopes that his success on the programme will motivate others to get involved with similar initiatives.

“I would encourage anyone to sign up for programmes like the ones run by the Building Lives Academy. You get to learn new skills, which can lead to job opportunities in the future. Young people should definitely take advantage of these opportunities. It’s much better than sitting around doing nothing at all.”