We see all the time how people on the group pull together and support each other in times of need. Recently the group saw a young lady, currently doing her Level 2 Apprenticeship in Plumbing, put a post on looking for a start as a plumber. Her name was Lauren Winter and she posted looking to labour for free, in return for the experience she would gain. Another group member, Lee Hughes, saw the post and responded saying that his company was advertising for a Level 3 Apprentice but would be happy to give her a start and see if the arrangement suited everyone. We caught up with them both to get their story, here’s what they had to say. Lauren tells us her story first…
Coming out of secondary school I went into photography at college after getting A*s in Media and Art studies, I thought it was similar and that I’d be good at it. This was in 2010, around the time that phones were rapidly being released with better megapixel cameras and digital cameras were becoming more affordable to every day households.
Struggling to find myself work as a photographer I wanted to study something I knew I’d have a job for life in. So I chose plumbing, and had dreams of working on cruise ships! I started in September 2011 but by December 2011 I found out I was expecting a baby. This soon put a stop to my learning, by April 2012 it was clear that I couldn’t carry on any longer, not just because the exposure to lead work posed a risk to my developing baby but also because we had moved onto fitting bathrooms and getting up down and under had become more than a little bit difficult!!! So, for the time being at least, learning the trade was finished. I was unable to complete the practical side of the course; for now, I had to call it a day.
I had my daughter, Ellie, in the August that year, however I suffered from postnatal depression amongst other things, immediately afterwards, which put an awful lot of stress on my relationship with my partner, Ellie’s dad. We split up and I ended up moving back to my parents for a short while. I had a really hard time until 2014, the major turning point was when we got the horses, they gave Ellie and me a real focus, got us out of the house and back into some sort of social environment, as well as all the benefits of being out in the fresh air. They have been something that has really helped me with my mental health and given me so much inner strength it’s unbelievable. Then 3 and a half years ago I started working in retail.
It was too easy, I never felt as if I was actually pushing myself. There was no progress and in all the time working within retail I earned no more than £8 an hour. Looking to the future, I knew I had to get back into college, without any hesitation I knew it was plumbing I wanted to do. So, September came and I enrolled on the course.
To date, I’ve passed every exam with either merit or distinction grades and I’m well on course to finish this June. I found the Builders Talk Group Facebook page one evening – I decided to post asking if there were any plumbers local to me willing to take me on for the Easter week so I could gain a bit more experience. Lee contacted me before the weekend and I was eager to get to know him and work for his reputable business. Having just bought a van and then finding Lee to work for it seems as if my new career has fallen into place. Lee and I met up for lunch and talked about future plans – we share a passion for renewable energy and the benefits it has, not only to customers, but also the environment. I’m hopeful that I can work for many years with Lee’s company providing the best work ethic and customer relations I possibly can.
The opportunity to work for Lee has given me a bright new future as I had started to feel as if I was not being taken seriously, as a female wanting to be a plumber.
I’m now on a mission to prove that plumbing is no longer a male only trade, and whether you’re young, middle or old aged it’s never too late to start something that is your passion.
It sounds to us as if Lauren is really going to make the most of the opportunities she has been presented with – she has also made it though to the Finals of the Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year 2018, but what was Lee’s motivation for getting in touch with her?
We were advertising to employ a level 3 plumbing apprentice when I saw Lauren’s post on Builders’ Talk Group on Facebook. So I thought it would be worth giving her the chance. We’ve employed female plumbers before – the balance you get from having females on site alongside the men is great. Most of my jobs are in homes where it is usually the female homeowner who is there when we are carrying out the work. Having female trades on the job I think really helps the customer to feel more relaxed.
As for Lauren, she’s been great so far. We met up for lunch so we could have a chat and give her some uniform to start with. So far, she’s got on with all the customers and the guys on site so couldn’t ask for more for a 1st week work experience.
We talked about what could happen if she qualifies, I’m happy to give her an apprenticeship to level 3 Gas Safe with my Gas Safe Engineer. We talked about the future, it would be great to get her trained in installing renewables, we’re both keen on preserving the environment and clean energy – renewables is the major way forward for this in the industry.
What a great story, Lauren’s determination to follow her dream has opened up a great future for her and Lee’s forward thinking attitude to the industry means more women in the trade. On top of that they have a shared passion for protecting our environment! We can only wish them both the best. Has it made you think about taking on a female apprentice? Next time you see someone looking for work on Builders’ Talk Group get involved in the conversation, you never know where it might lead!