As the coronavirus pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on both the job market and charity fundraising activities, Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice have appointed two new apprentices to its fundraising team at the start of this year's National Apprenticeship Week.
Gaining hands on experience
Grace Noble, 19, and Luke Drinkwater, 26, who are both from Cheltenham, are looking forward to gaining valuable hands on experience working at the hospice while studying for their Level 3 Fundraising Apprenticeship with Bauer Academy.
Grace said, “It’s amazing to have found a job I really want to do in the middle of all the chaos of the world right now. I have always wanted to do charity work and I just wasn’t expecting to find something in this field at this time.”
“Normally you would expect to do volunteer work first at my age, so I never thought I would find an opportunity like this.”
“I have always had a passion for wanting to help people and if anything what has happened over the past year has fuelled that even more. The pandemic has brought home to me how important it is to help people, and this is what made the role at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice so appealing.”
Finding a passion in lockdown
Like many people during the pandemic, Grace has had to make a change of plan to her career. “I had first considered going to university and was offered a place for September. I was meant to have a gap year last year which obviously didn’t happen, and a couple of weeks before I was due to start university, I had a real gut feeling that this just wasn’t for me.
“I started searching for a job instead. It’s really hard as a young person to find work in lockdown, let alone in something you are really passionate about. I count myself really fortunate to have secured this role with Sue Ryder.”
“The fact I get to learn and get practical hands on experience alongside really appeals to me.
“I am really excited to get going. My friends and family are all thrilled for me, too. My mum and friends even organised a Zoom call for me to say well done, which was a nice surprise.”
Joining the Leckhampton team
“I went to university in London and studied lighting design at a theatre school,” Luke said. “Then, I secured a job working in the theatre industry in lighting and backstage roles. I worked on a range of productions and was touring with the Buddy Holly Story when the pandemic changed everything.
“By chance the lockdown was announced when I was on a scheduled week off, so I was back in Cheltenham for a week’s break. Everything closed down so I stayed at home with my parents. I had no work at all and no means for getting any work. All of the theatre industry just stopped overnight with no way of getting moving again.”
“I started looking for a job. I was looking for anything and willing to take anything because having the specialist background I do can make it a difficult sell for transferable skills. I saw the job in housekeeping advertised at the hospice and, as it was local to me, I applied.
“After an online interview I was thankfully offered the job. When I got to the hospice and started working I was so surprised by what I found. I was expecting it to be a very downbeat, depressing place to work, but it is the complete opposite.”
Learning and looking to the future
“The hospice is a great place to work and really welcoming. It has an upbeat community family feeling. I have been here for five months and I really enjoy it – there is a real sense of doing my part to help people in need at the moment, which is really rewarding.”
When Luke spotted the fundraising apprenticeship role on a Government website and after speaking to hospice colleagues he applied. He was thrilled when he was offered the role.
“I’m really looking forward to getting started and seeing where my new role takes me. I am really grateful to Sue Ryder for the chance to start in housekeeping in an entry level position and then move up. They have really welcomed me into the organisation and I am so grateful to them for investing in me and taking a chance on me.
“I feel like I am taking the skills I had and pivoting them to do something good. Being able to learn alongside the job will give me confidence as I learn and develop new skills too.”
The hospice welcomes Luke and Grace during what has been a difficult year, with the pandemic forcing the cancellation of its fundraising events and Sue Ryder shutting the doors to its charity shops multiple times, leaving the charity facing a £2 million a month shortfall.
In response, the charity took the unprecedented step of launching two urgent fundraising appeals in 2020 to try and bridge the gap.
Helping our care to continue
Alysia Cameron-Price, Community Fundraising Manager at the hospice, said: “This is the first time we have ever had apprentices in fundraising and Luke and Grace’s appointment could not come at a better time for us when we’re so desperately doing all we can to raise the vital funds so our care can continue.
“Not only will we benefit from the extra pair of hands here at the hospice, but there will be the great benefits from all the knowledge Grace and Luke will be gaining from their learning through Bauer Academy.”
Sue Ryder apprenticeships
For further information on apprenticeships with Sue Ryder please email our Learning Team