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Gloucestershire Business News

Apprentice joiners create community street libraries for new housing developments

Apprentice joiners have put the finishing touches to community street libraries they have created for new housing developments being built by Barratt Homes.

The initiative is part of leading housebuilder Barratt Homes' commitment to fostering a sense of community within its new developments. The street libraries have been installed at three of its new housing developments, including Blackberry Park near Bristol, Charfield Gardens in South Gloucestershire, and Great Oldbury in Gloucestershire.

The street library is a wooden, fully weather-proofed outdoor store with a Perspex door that can hold around 50 books for exchange by residents. It offers people the chance to take part in a simple, free to access, community book-swap.

The street libraries have been constructed by young people on Barratt Homes' apprenticeship programme. Barratt Homes' Bristol division takes on six apprentices every year and the joinery apprentices have been busy building the street libraries as part of their level two and three qualifications in carpentry.

Apprentice Cezary Poniatowski, 21, from Bristol, started his apprenticeship in 2018 and has been working on the street library for Blackberry Park in Coalpit Heath near Bristol. 

Cezary says: "I'm in my third year of my apprenticeship at Barratt Homes and I'm getting a great learning experience and high level skills. I have been working on first and second fix jobs such as fitting doors, skirting boards, and roof joists. I'm really lucky because I started my apprenticeship with Carillion, then, when they went into receivership, Barratt Homes took me on and now I have nearly completed my level three qualification in joinery. After that I will be all set to continue my career in construction."

Surrounded by countryside, Blackberry Park, near the village of Frampton Cottrell, is a development of more than 200, two, three four and five-bedroom homes, where the first residents moved in last year. Here, the new street library is just one small part of Barratt Homes' approach to creating a thriving community at Blackberry Park. Barratt Homes is making a contribution worth more than £700,000 towards wider community improvements including outdoor sports facilities, allotments and recreational open spaces.

Charfield Gardens, near Wotton-Under-Edge, South Gloucestershire, a growing community of 115 two, three and four-bedroom homes, will also be home to a new street library. Complete with allotments and an orchard, Charfield Gardens also has shared outdoor facilities including a new play area and a trim trail connecting to local countryside walks. Barratt Homes is contributing over £885,000 in community benefits through section 106 contributions, as well as additional support for local organisations over and above the planning requirements, including £6,000 towards Charfield Village Hall.

Local apprentice Drew Lewis, 19, who has been working on the street library for Charfield Gardens, is halfway through his level two apprenticeship. 

Drew says: "I really like the variety of work we do - no two days are the same. Working with all the other trades on site is fun and it's satisfying watching the houses go up. I'm enjoying it so much I'm hoping to go onto do my level 3."

Great Oldbury in Stonehouse will also be home to a new street library. Set within walking distance of the Thames and Severn Canal, this development of hundreds of two, three and four-bedroom homes will have multiple play areas, sports pitches and a new school, which is opening later this year. Barratt Homes is also planting over 350 trees at Great Oldbury.

Apprentice Ethan Godwin, 18, who has been working on Great Oldbury's street library, says: "I feel incredibly lucky to be here, I came straight onto this apprenticeship from school and it's great - with on the job training I can earn as I learn. I really enjoy working in a team on-site, everyone is really friendly and supportive. I would like to stay with Barratt Homes to do my level three qualification and after that, the opportunities are endless. "

The apprenticeships at Barratt Homes are available to anyone who has just left school or college, and those looking for a new challenge or a career change.

Andrea Pilgrim, sales director at Barratt Homes' Bristol division which covers the wider Gloucestershire region, says: "These street libraries are just one way we are working to create a real sense of community within the new developments we are building. We hope that people enjoy using them, perhaps discover a new book they might not have tried otherwise, or even make new connections within their community through the initiative. It is particularly rewarding to see our young apprentices embracing this project; they have done a fantastic job of creating the street libraries and we congratulate them on their excellent craftsmanship."

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