Young people turn their lives around on boot camp

Pictured: Coventry youngsters celebrate the end of Boot Camp being run by Whitefriars Housing to help young people turn their lives around with the incentive of winning an apprenticeship at the end of the week

Eight young people from Coventry have proved hard work is the key to success after a week-long boot camp course gave them the chance to turn their lives around.

Whitefriars Housing ran the course, which is the first of its kind to be run by a housing association, with the incentive of an apprenticeship at the end of it for the person who excelled the most during the week.

The course was for young people out of work and education, who are living in Whitefriars’ properties or in neighbourhoods managed by Whitefriars. The young people aged 16 to 18 were keen to find out about training and employment opportunities with Whitefriars and some, but not all of them, have been involved in low level ASB or are known to the Youth Offending Service. 

Seventeen-year-old Katy O’Beirn from Cheylesmore, was chosen as ‘The Apprentice’ but all eight were so outstanding that Whitefriars has now raised the bar for the remaining seven people.

The remaining ones will now embark on a 12-week ‘Foundation to Learning’ course to boost their academic abilities and there are a further two apprenticeships up for grabs for the two people who come out on top after the next three months.

But for Katy her new life will start on Monday, September 5, when she begins her housing apprenticeship at Whitefriars’ Torrington Avenue office. 

Katy was known to the police but had shown that she wanted to change her life by staying out of trouble. She was asked if she would like to take part in boot camp and jumped at the opportunity to turn her life around and to have the opportunity to get a job. 

On winning the apprenticeship, Katy said: “I just can’t believe that I have won. It has been such an amazing experience. Being given the apprenticeship has changed my life because it’s going to allow me to earn money and one day hopefully I’ll be able to get my own place.

“I’m looking forward to starting working and really value being given this opportunity.”

The week included team building and physical challenges, such as wall building and diffusing a pretend landmine, a charity fundraising car wash, visiting the National Memorial Arboretum, and gaining advice on CV writing and interview skills.  

Another important part of the course was community work and they will also met with West Midlands Police’s Youth Offending Team to discuss the recent riots and the importance of communities.

Gail Cooper, head of anti-social behaviour at Whitefriars Housing, and her team came up with the idea of boot camp as a way of engaging positively with young people and helping them understand the impact that ASB activities and criminal damage have on individuals and the wider community.

Gail said: “I have been really moved by the journey the young people have been on during boot camp. We have seen them mature and learn to work as individuals and as a team. I am immensely proud of all of them and they should be very proud of what they have achieved.

“This is the first time we have done the boot camp but because of their hard work and dedication it has made it a success we hope to repeat. 

“Katy has been a star throughout the week and deserves the apprenticeship but all the young people have shown promise so we are offering them the chance to go on a 12-week Foundation to Learning course and the competition is back on to see who can take the further two apprenticeships Whitefriars has offered.”

A special recognition award was handed to Charlie-Dee Murphy, aged 16, from Willenhall. Charlie is hoping to continue on the course in a bid to win one of the apprenticeships.

Lee Stuart, managing director of Go Commando Boot Camp, ran the physical activities with the young people throughout the week. He added: “I spent 11 years in the Royal Marines and it has been great to spend a week doing something different like this. I have been amazed how well they all bonded and got together as a team.”

The Boot camp is part of a campaign being run by WM Housing, of which Whitefriars is a part, to improve residents’ skills, employability, communities and life chances. 

Whitefriars would like to thank Astleys of Coventry for discounting the cost of the boots for the young people.


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