A group of local apprentices have started a unique building project in Havant, believed to be a UK first.
Twenty-three youngsters covering a range of skills, from carpentry to site management, will be constructing a community centre at Nursery Fields, the Barratt development at Denvilles.
A special ceremony to break ground to get the project underway was attended by local politicians. The new 2,500 sq ft building will be constructed in traditional brick and block materials and be ready for completion next summer.
The apprentices are aged from 16 to 21 â€“ and 16 year old Dexter Smith, an apprentice carpenter said: â€œI am really enjoying my job here at Barratt. Everyoneâ€™s really supportive and I can see that thereâ€™ll be loads of opportunities in the future. The Community Centre project is brilliant!â€
The Mayor of Havant, Councillor Leah Turner, said: â€œThis is a fabulous initiative from Barratt which not only provides a much needed community facility but engages local youngsters on a really worthwhile project. It also shows that youngsters have a viable alternative to university when embarking on a career path.â€
Ward councillors Jackie Branson and Tim Pike agreed. â€œThis kind of project does an excellent job in bringing a whole range of people together, â€œsaid Councillor Pike. Councillor Branson added: â€œThis area has been crying out for a Community Centre and having it built by youngsters â€“ albeit under supervision â€“ is terrific.â€
Havant MP Alan Mak said, â€œThe new community centre will be a great asset for Denvilles and the wider Havant area. Iâ€™m delighted local apprentices will be at the heart of its construction, and I look forward to supporting them and the community centre as it takes shape. This is a fantastic community project bringing together the housebuilding industry, apprentices and the community.â€
Ian Wallace, Managing Director at Barratt, said: â€œPutting it quite simply, apprentices are the life-blood of Barratt which is why we are so committed to investing in their development. Apprentices here have a brilliant future with us and, given a positive work ethic and enthusiasm, can progress up the career ladder quite quickly.â€
The project was the initiative of Jon Green, Construction Director at Barratt, who said: â€œOften youngsters are involved in only part of a scheme. But here they will have the opportunity of seeing how a project develops from start to finish and consequently theyâ€™ll be able to take real pride in their accomplishments.â€
The community project was enabled by Havant Borough Council as part of the Community Infrastructure Levee receipts from the nearby Barrattâ€™s Nursery Fields residemtial development.
Warblington train station and the Ofsted rated â€˜Goodâ€™ Warblington school is just a short walk away.