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Four of the apprentices working on Havelock estate through Catalyst

Home learning: Apprentices on site

The first phase of a dramatic overhaul of Havelock estate in Southall is almost complete and it has seen local apprentices taken on to learn a trade on the doorstep of their own homes.

“I have always wanted to be working in a trade and am enjoying the opportunity,” said Michael Colliss, one of five apprentices from Havelock working on the estate’s redevelopment. You can see four of them pictured above.

Michael, 20, is learning to be a plumber – and hopes one day to start a business with his brother, who is a bricklayer.

Artist's impression of Havelock once finished
Artist’s impression of Havelock once finished

The regeneration of Havelock followed a review by Ealing Council, which owned the land. A report concluded the old homes on the site, built in the 1950s and 1970s, no longer met national standards. So the council appointed Catalyst to take over the site and breathe new life into the estate after receiving a number of proposals from developers.

Catalyst started work in 2014 and, in March 2017, the homes built as part of the first phase are due to be ready to move into.

It is a 10-year project that will eventually provide more than 900 homes for social rent, shared ownership or private sale.

Alongside the homes will be a new park, canal-side improvements and better connections to the surrounding areas.

Catalyst has been ensuring there are ongoing opportunities for jobs and training for local people. A fifth of the labour force on-site live within a few miles of Havelock, and local apprentices have been gaining skills – and qualifications – while working there.

Four apprentices from Havelock – including Michael – are working on the Havelock site itself, while another is at the nearby St Bernard’s Gate development – another Catalyst project. The trades being learned are plumbing, dry-lining, carpentry, labouring, and brick-laying.

The apprentices attended a three-day course at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College to get a necessary construction safety certificate which everyone needs to hold before beginning any work on-site. Organising this training, and booking potential apprentices on to it, is one of the ways Catalyst is helping local people into work.


“It is going very well and I am picking up the trade very quickly,” said Rohan Modgill, 20, of his first few months working at as bricklayer at St Bernard’s Gate, which is just next to Ealing Hospital. His direct employer Higgins, and Catalyst, have helped him to buy his own work tools and he will soon start a course at Lambeth College one day a week to add to the skills being learnt on-site. But what is best about bricklaying? “I enjoy face work the most because it’s the outside of the building, the bit you see, and it has to be really good. No mistakes.”

“I am enjoying the opportunity to being doing something and this is a start into getting into painting and decorating,” said fellow apprentice Eddie Colemack, 49, who is currently providing labouring support to several contractors on Havelock.

Meanwhile, carpentry apprentice Suk Sohal, 20, said it has given him the motivation to get up in the morning and go to work: “I can see what work I have done and it makes me feel good.”

And Nathan Tighe, 21, simply said: “I like the environment. Everybody is nice and easy to get along with.” He is working on Havelock as a dry-liner, which involves building internal walls and installing partitions.


Councillor Jasbir Anand, cabinet member for housing, said: “This type of partnership between the council and Catalyst is about more than just building better homes. It is about working with the community to provide somewhere people want to live, and creating career opportunities. It is great to see the apprentices doing well – and the other local people who are working at Havelock.”


Find out more about apprenticeships and other opportunities through by calling the Catalyst Gateway team on 0300 456 2099

Find out more about the Havelock project at www.chg.org.uk or view the housing regeneration pages at www.ealing.gov.uk

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