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Youngsters on the career ladder with new Haringey initiative

PICTURED: Asha and staff’: Sean Dirrane (VolkerFitzpatrick site engineer), Asha, Maxine Stephens (VolkerFitzpatrick project skills co-ordinator), Tam Carrigan

YOUNGSTERS ARE on the career ladder thanks to an imaginative initiative between Haringey Council and a range of companies and charities.

Called the Tottenham Charter it aims to ensure Tottenham residents get the most from the regeneration in the area in terms of jobs, health, education and training.

The organisation signs up to the charter and pledges, in their own way, to improve the quality of life for residents in the area. One of these is leading engineering and construction company VolkerFitzpatrick, currently working to improve Northumberland Park’s railway station.

Thanks to the charter, VolkerFitzpatrick’s Anglia Rail Skills Academy was brought together with Haringey Play Association which runs a popular adventure playground in north Tottenham. A ‘pre-apprenticeship programme’ was launched which saw a group of 16-19-year-olds build a new sandpit and water play area in the playground, aided by VolkerFitzpatrick staff who also organised a site tour and a construction workshop.

Indeed, the programme has been so successful that one of the group, 16-year-old Asha Clarke, has recently secured a job at the company as a trainee engineer.

“I did the pre-apprenticeship programme and then came on a week’s work experience at VolkerFitzpatrick,” he said. “I think they liked my attitude and how I performed but I was shocked when I was phoned to be told the good news. I couldn’t stop smiling for the whole day!”

Asha admits his life could have turned out very differently. He had fallen in with a particular crowd at school and found himself on a final warning.

“Six months ago I never would have dreamt I would have a full-time job in engineering. But this is my time to shine.”

Asha’s ‘mentor’ at the adventure playground in Somerford Grove was Tam Carrigan who encouraged Asha to apply for the programme.

“I’m so proud of him,” said Tam, beaming. “He still comes in to see us every week and tells the younger kids to think about their future and he is also a constant encouragement for his peers, just by the example he has set, which is wonderful. The charter is a great idea and it gives big companies like VolkerFitzpatrick the opportunity to give something back to the community.”

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