How my life changed for the better within a year

A Hull teenager gives thanks to Riverside for changing his life by helping with a career path and getting a home of his own.

Life was very different for Lewis Love a year ago as he spent his time doing casual work as and when and didn’t know what career path he wanted to take.

But today 19-year-old Lewis is looking to the future as he is forging a career in the construction industry and settled in his own place. He credits charitable housing association Riverside for giving him the opportunity to turn his life around and giving him direction. In his own words here’s his story…

Lewis Love, 19, Hull.

Last year I was doing casual work and living at home. It was through my mum I got to know Sam Foster, Riverside’s Project Officer (Employment and Training) as my mum is a tenant with Riverside, and Sam helped her onto a training course and get a job as a hairdresser.

Sam then helped me with my career path by putting my curriculum vitae together to get an apprenticeship. He enrolled me on to a course to get my CSCS card, which is a required permit for people to work on building sites and necessary for those that want to do an apprenticeship or work in the construction industry. Sam also got me enrolled with a training provider to see what trade I wanted to go into and train in. I enjoyed painting and decorating the most so decided that was path I wanted to take.

At the start of the year, Sam got me an interview with a Re-Dec, a commercial painting and decorating company in Hull. The interviewer was impressed and gave me a trial run, however I hit a problem on being able to get to work as there wasn’t any direct public transport links. So Sam stepped in and with Riverside funds bought me a bike to ride to work, finally I was able to do the trial which began in January and I’m pleased to say I passed and now doing a two-year apprenticeship.

Lewis Love, 19, from Hull.

I work on commercial properties and so far worked in hospitals, fire and police stations to name a few. I’ve also travelled to London to work on a project there which is great for me to travel the country and see different places. I love my job, I have a different experience each time so I don’t get bored.

I am furloughed at the moment, but looking forward to resume my apprenticeship soon when construction sites re-open and catch up on contracts before the lockdown.

In the meantime I wanted to get my own place with my girlfriend, and went through the usual lettings process. Thanks to the help of housing officer Elizabeth Duke I was successful in getting a Riverside property in November. Sadly my girlfriend and I split up so I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to sustain the tenancy on my own. But I shouldn’t have worried because Samantha Jude, who is Riverside’s money adviser, went through my finances, worked with me and sorted it all out, making sure I was getting the right benefits and helped me fill in the necessary forms so I could continue living there. This support was invaluable to me and stopped me stressing out as I had decorated and made a home for myself. Samantha was amazing and made it possible for me to stay. Again, when I started my apprenticeship Samantha stepped in and provided the support I needed to adjust my Universal Credit so I didn’t struggle with maintaining my tenancy.

Lewis Love, 19, from Hull.

I was also given support to apply for funds from Riverside and various organisations to buy a cooker and washing machine.

Riverside has changed my life completely. This time last year I was doing odd jobs here and there, I had no direction or career prospects. But now I have got my life together and my own home – I’m looking forward to the future.

I’m so grateful to Riverside who continue to help me with any issues I have, including while being furloughed. Staff are so helpful and have really helped me change my life around.

Life is great – I love my home and I’m enjoying my apprenticeship. I feel really lucky to be in the position I’m in and looking forward to the future.

* Riverside’s services are part of our offer to tenants in line with Homes For Cathy Commitment Five: meeting the needs of vulnerable tenant groups.