It’s 26 June 2020 and I’ve left the bubble of lockdown, mask on, hand sanitiser ready, to find myself on a building site in the south of the city. I’m meeting James and Adam from JCS who are busy redeveloping an AirBnB and it’s a baking hot day so the lads are enjoying ten minutes outside to do some quick interviews as my face gets a chance to go bright pink.

I’m here to meet up with Warise, an apprentice plasterer from Radford who I first met back in 2019 on a pretty gloomy cold day in a bare-brick extension when I was grateful of his easy, gentle character and wide smile to warm the situation.

The first thing that strikes me today, aside from the glass-like finish of the render on this old hotel building is how far he’s come since we last met. Standing here in the sun, he’s still wearing his trademark grin and beanie hat, despite the weather, and you wouldn’t know that he’s had a pretty tough upbringing.

What’s clear is that with some hard graft and a load of support, he is a surprisingly mature, thoughtful and positive bloke. As a young man ‘on the trowels’ as he calls it, Warise is not only a pretty skilled plasterer but is mentoring other young men who’ve been taken on by JCS;

“My skills and confidence have grown massively in the past twelve months. I’m feeling more confident about what I do on a day to day basis and I’ve been able to help other young people like Danny and other new apprentices who are up and coming to teach them the skills that I’ve learnt.

“I’ve been able to mentor someone like Danny, who’s only seventeen, to be able to get along in the world of working in construction, showing him what it’s like on a site and how to get along with all the different trades, basically helping him to be a better plasterer and a better man.

“I learn from teaching other people, I learn new things every day from Danny, it’s a win-win situation for both of us and for the company. It’s also good to learn from Adam and James who are a different generation but are willing to teach people like me and Danny and give us a future in construction.”

Editor’s notes:

JCS, based in Bakersfield, are committed to taking on and supporting young people like Warise, not just to give them the skills to succeed in their working lives, but to gain the confidence and interpersonal skills they need to win at life too. The final word goes to Adam, part-owner at JCS;

“We’re contractors who specialise in renovations but our main aim is to bring young people into work who might not usually have the opportunity, such as Warise.

“Warise has been with us just over twelve months now and he’s come along leaps and bounds. I’m very proud of the young man he’s become and his skill set in his trade as a plasterer has really come a long way. He’s a fantastic young lad and a role model for our other young apprentices.”