Hi, my name is Lewis, I am a customer service level 2 apprentice within children services.

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One thing I have to do as an apprentice is manage my work load. I feel that I manage my workload effectively and efficiently however I am sure with time I will progress as the workload becomes more intense. I manage my work by keeping my calendar up to date and then if there is any free space, I know I can either do college work or be proactive and do some training or go to my manager and ask if there is anything she needs me to do. I feel at the moment I manage my learning/study with my work commitments.

Sometimes learning can clash with work and it is more effective if you can be flexible rather than having 1 set day for study as I feel its easier to get things done. If I do have to change my study day its really important that I do take the time back to do college work.

I was encouraged by professionals to apply for the role and that gave me more confidence to go forward with the application. I heard about the job from my Young Persons Advisor, and he pushed me to apply for it and gave me the kick that I needed. Then someone from Black Country Impact called me to make sure I applied and without those I probably wouldn’t have applied, I would have just said I was going to and wouldn’t have.

I found the interview process to be somewhat difficult inasmuch as it was before a panel of 4 people and not on a 1 to 1 basis and I didn’t know this prior to the interview.

As an apprentice in the department, I feel valued all be it that I didn’t get the role I originally applied for. However, I must have made an impression as I was offered an additional specialist role as a participation apprentice. This makes me work harder to show them that they made the right choice in taking me on as well as the other apprentices.

My expectations of the apprenticeship are that I will be employed within children services and therefore able to call on my own experiences as a looked after child to the benefit of others who may find themselves in a similar situation.

My journey before my apprenticeship can only be viewed as difficult as I lost my mom a few years ago now and school in particular was very difficult for me. Now she lies at the heart of everything I do and to make her proud, and to prove to everyone who said I ‘couldn’t be anything’, wrong.

On the first day I felt welcomed and confident enough to ask questions, if necessary, despite being nervous and not knowing what to expect. It was just really nice to meet everyone for the first time. Everyone was really friendly and that helped me be less nervous. Another thing which helped me was meeting my manager before hand as there was at least one person I had met before walking into the building on the first day. It also helped knowing I wasn’t the only person/ apprentice starting that day. We are all different but are all sharing the same experience.

I do various things day to day it’s never set to one thing now really, for example I create videos, help out with shortlisting for jobs within the service and give my opinion which I feel is really valued. I have attended events such as the care leavers event in Bristol and the care leavers event that Dudley hosted. I enjoyed taking part in this as I am still new to my role, at every opportunity I have to learn something new or learn a new skill if I have time available. I put myself forward for new things as I want to have a much larger skill and knowledge set by the end of my apprenticeship.

In my first week I got to go to a principle social work conference in Birmingham and met Lisa Cherry. Lisa is now a famous author and guest speaker who has a care experienced life history like me. Lisa has invited me and the other Dudley apprentices to her book launch in June 2022. It was inspiring to see that someone has used their experience to change things!

Being an apprentice gives you the opportunity to learn on the job and also study to get the qualifications to get the role at the end of the apprenticeship.  I think is really good for me as I struggle in full time school or college and would much rather work. At the start I didn’t think I would like college at all, but I don’t mind doing the college work.

Since the start of my apprenticeship, I have grown a lot and really come out of my shell. I like a lot of the things I have done so far and wouldn’t have done in a million years without this apprenticeship. I am really invested in this apprenticeship so I am doing everything I can to make sure that at the end of my apprenticeship that it isn’t the end of me working at Dudley. My confidence has grown considerably giving me the ability to sell myself going forward as a valuable member of staff. And the reason for my confidence growing so much is mainly because of my manager being so supportive and she is now setting me one task every week that takes me out of my comfort zone and that has helped a lot.

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