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Saffron supports staff as former apprentices head back to school

Saffron Housing Trust is celebrating as two young employees who first joined as apprentices begin advanced courses in construction.

They are a great example of the kind of long-term careers that apprenticeships can lead to and reinforces Saffron’s commitment to investing in staff training and development.

Hannah Beeslee and Sam Watts outside Saffron

Development Officer Hannah Beeslee has started a Higher National Diploma in Construction and Built Environment, a work-focused qualification that is the equivalent of a foundation degree or the first two years of a bachelor’s degree. Sam Watts, another Development Officer at Saffron, has started a BSc in Construction Management, having already completed a Higher National Certificate in Construction and Built Environment. Both joined Saffron on two-year-long apprenticeships and were offered permanent positions in the organisation’s development department upon completion.

“I have learnt a lot through working at Saffron,” said Hannah. “When I started, I didn’t really know anything about construction, and it has been something that I’ve learnt to really enjoy. My colleagues that I’ve worked with over the years have been a great support, I’ve learnt a lot from them, and getting out on site has definitely helped me learn and visualise things. Saffron have always encouraged training, as well as going to seminars and conferences, where you can learn a lot as well.”

“We’re incredibly proud of Sam and Hannah here at Saffron,” said Iain Innes, Executive Director of Finance & Development. “I’ve worked with them both for the past year and they are already incredibly valuable members of the development team.

“We’re happy to continue supporting their growth and training however we can. Given the hard work and passion they put into everything they do, I think they both have long careers in social housing ahead of them.”

Saffron Housing Trust manages over 6,000 homes across East Anglia and has a number of development projects ongoing at any given time. As part of the development department, Hannah and Sam work with local contractors to build developments and secure affordable housing for people in need on new sites.

“It’s an unbelievably good feeling to see people who were in insufficient housing, whether that be size or location or quality, and to go back to these projects and see people living in them, furnishing them and enjoying their life,” said Sam. “Saffron has been brilliant to me. I’d always wanted to go further but rather than leave work to go to university, it would be better if I could share the two. The prospect of exams is one that I never thought I’d have to face again in my life, but I’m excited. It’s another step up, and just the few weeks I’ve been there, looking at the stuff I’m going to be learning, it’s the right choice.”

Saffron is passionate about providing apprenticeship opportunities and has helped staff develop in areas from office administration to electrical engineering. Since 2004, more than 45 Saffron employees have completed apprenticeships while working as part of the organisation, and Saffron is planning to further boost its training and apprenticeships offering in 2020.

“Apprenticeships are very important to Saffron,” said Catherine Hodds, Director of HR. “It’s great to be able to help young people take the first steps on their career journey and find a job they are passionate about. Apprenticeships allow people to learn in a real-world environment and mean our employees can share their wealth of experience and skills with those in training.

“Hannah and Sam are wonderful examples of how apprenticeships can help you find a career, and we’re happy to support them as they continue to learn and develop their knowledge of the industry.”