YHN keeps it in the family

There is double celebration for a Newcastle family after a mother and son, who struggled to find employment, both secured new jobs.
Valerie McDonald, 52, and her son Gary, 20, took part in an employability scheme run by Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) earlier this year, which gave them first-hand experience of working in a leading supermarket. They first heard about the scheme at a discussion group delivered by the YHN Customer Involvement Team, something they attend regularly as volunteers.
After showing so much potential throughout the two day voluntary programme, Valerie was offered a job at the supermarket and Gary was successful in applying for a sixth month paid position at YHN.
Gary is now progressing well through his Your Homes Your Jobs placement, working as a community environmental assistant, and Val has recently successfully completed her sixth month probationary period.
Valerie had previously worked as a carer but then found it difficult to find employment. And despite completing training courses in the past, her son Gary had never had a job and struggled to find work due to his lack of experience.
The employability scheme is one of many developed for YHN tenants, many of whom are long-term unemployed, to give them the skills base they need to go into the job market with confidence.
Tenants took part in training sessions with the supermarket to learn key customer service skills, good practice in the workplace, and dealing with complaints, and linked up with existing members of staff to gain an insight into working on the shop floor.
As part of the programme they also took part in mock interviews and were given advice on application and interview techniques, giving them confidence to apply for jobs and an insight into what employers are looking for.
Following this, Gary applied for his position through the Your Homes Your Jobs scheme, which employs 20 unemployed YHN customers every year to help them increase their skills, confidence and prospects, and provides references for other potential employers. 
He said: “Doing the training really made me want to continue working and I was keen to put all of the skills I’d learned there and on other YHN courses to good use. I was quite nervous for the interview but I did a mock interview with Stuart Clarke which really helped so I felt confident enough to give good responses and put myself across well.
“I was over the moon when I found out I’d got the job, it’ll be so useful having this experience of working at YHN on my CV and I’m absolutely loving it. I get to get out and about, tidy up gardens and communal areas and generally improve the look of estates and it’s great to be working out in the open. I thought I might struggle to adapt but that hasn’t been the case at all – in fact, when I took a week off I found it harder to get into holiday mode than I did getting back into work mode!”
Stuart Clarke, Customer Involvement Officer at YHN, said: “Customer Involvement, delivering quality training and helping tenants gain skills to move into employment are key elements of the wider service we deliver at YHN.
“This employability programme has been really successful and highlights the importance of partnership working – especially with big employers – and Your Homes Your Jobs continues to increase the employability of many tenants. At YHN we don’t just provide houses. We’re about creating sustainable communities, supporting tenants and ultimately having an impact on the North East economy.”