Meet Jack – National Apprenticeship Week

Jack Bradshaw Riverside apprentice

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week apprentices and trainees across Riverside are sharing their stories about how working with us has transformed their lives. 

Meet Jack Bradshaw – Digital Inclusion Apprentice

“I wanted to become an apprentice because although I had done voluntary work in the community before, I knew I needed the appropriate training to go from simply listening to people’s problems, to actually helping solve them.

Although I was aware I would be one of the older apprentices at 24, I knew an apprenticeship was the right way to go for me. Learning about Riverside’s background and adopting the company’s values and protocols were paramount before I thrusted myself into a permanent role of any kind.

The things I have learned here in such a short time have only made me care more about how now more than ever we need great customer service. Money is tight and work is hard to come by for those who aren’t online.

The training I have received as part of my apprenticeship so far has ensured I can help a customer get online specifically for their own needs and benefits. I am so glad I am able to support our customers, and I am especially glad I chose this apprenticeship to expand my customer care capabilities.

Working with the Community Engagement team at Riverside has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.

I have really enjoyed watching a customer personally achieve something as a result of assistance I have given them. For example, a customer was recently referred to me by a housing officer, who told me he was having trouble at home and needed online help, specifically on his Property Pool Plus account. I called the gentleman at home and organised an appointment at our offices with him.

Upon meeting him he seemed angered at the online application process and struggled with the format. He would sigh constantly and shake his head in frustration. I sat him down and filled the application with him, and explained how long it would take for the application to be processed. I reiterated that now his form was submitted, we can finally get the ball rolling on finding him a new property.

Recently in our offices I noticed the same gentleman was in our offices speaking with his housing officer. He immediately recognised me, then approached and thanked me for what I’d done for him, and explained it looks like he will be moving home soon. I’ll never forget how different his expression was to the first time I’d met him. He went from anxious and deflated to really excited and happy in a matter of weeks. Seeing this happen is definitely what I enjoy most about my apprenticeship at Riverside, and I hope so much that I can continue to help people like this in the future.

I know that what I’ve been doing during my apprenticeship is leading somewhere really beneficial.

The biggest skill I have gained so far is the Property Pool Application process. When I first saw the website the form baffled me to tell the truth. It was 17 pages long and I struggled having to ask tenants personal questions in relation to the form. Initially, I would bring an experienced member of staff into the room with me whilst filling in an application with a customer. They would help guide me through the form, as well as asking a couple of the personal questions when I felt slightly uneasy about it. Since then I have become well acquainted with the Property Pool procedure, and not only am I able to ask the somewhat difficult questions on the form, but I am now able to empathise with each customer’s unique situation.

This also ties in with another one of the biggest skills I have learnt, which is interacting with a customer who have worked all their lives, and now struggle to find work or properties, because they have no computer skills. Things I sometimes take for granted such as sending an email can be completely alien to them, so when they come across something as complex as a 17 page long application form, it can make them feel perplexed and defeated.

I thank the staff that helped me through it, and I am glad I have been able to add this to my skillset, because online help is now vital. Not only is it vital for online forms such as this one, but we need to help people get online simply so they do not get left behind in this new digital age we are entering.

Once my apprenticeship ends, I would love to find a permanent role where I can utilise as many of the skills I have acquired as possible.

Working with the Community Engagement team at Riverside has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. It has allowed me to interact on a personal and professional level with our customers, at a point in time where money is specifically tight, especially in this part of the country. Helping others who have fell on hard times, growing up in the same background as I have is the ultimate reward I could achieve for my work.

In conclusion, I know that what I’ve been doing during my apprenticeship is leading somewhere really beneficial. Not just for me, but anyone I can help in the present and the future.”