Case study - Lewis, carpenter

Lewis Windebank

I was already at college doing A Levels when I realised that I wasn’t on the right path. I looked ahead to the future and couldn’t imagine myself at uni, with the amount of debt you have to take on these days. Sitting at a desk was just not right for me. Then, when I was walking home one day, I saw an apprentice leaving a Sovereign property in his van, a lad that I knew from a few years above me at school. It convinced me that I wanted to be out and about doing something physical.

My dad is actually a carpenter too and when I mentioned I didn’t want to go to uni he encouraged me to get my CSCS licence so that I could go out on site with him first and get an idea of what trades work would be like. To be honest, I was already decided, I was ready to take the risk, but I went out with him and it was useful.

I’ve been here six months and in that time I’ve already done floor laying, plastering, painting, tiling and finishing. I’m getting a good overview of everything that it takes to make a home ready, but I do want to focus on carpentry. 

I have to say it’s been a bit of a steep learning curve, though I love being practical and having a laugh. I like the way the guys show me what to do and then let me get on with it. Then they talk me through where I’ve gone wrong, if I have! It’s been the best decision for me and I’d totally recommend it for others. With A levels there’s no guarantee of a career, but with an apprenticeship you get out and do the work on the ground. You’re constantly being tested but in a good way.

It’s been an interesting experience so far - of course there are bad parts - working in the cold, for one, but that’s just life, there’s no point moaning about it! I like a busy day - and usually we are pretty hectic. I’ve also learned a lot about different people, it was a bit of an eye-opener at first. I felt quite nervous talking to the residents, because I was in their houses, but I’m already used to it. I like the fact that the housing we offer protects those who need more support and that I am part of that.