Photo of Chen receiving her award

At last night’s Direct Works Forum awards, Chen Thompson was named as Best Apprentice and also won the Chair's Choice award.

The Direct Works Forum is the representative body for Housing Associations, Local Authorities and RSLs employing their own trades staff to undertake repairs and maintenance. Their annual awards are presented to employees from member organisations who have demonstrated exceptional skill and commitment in their chosen discipline.

The apprentice award recognises someone who has enthusiasm in their role and a thirst for knowledge and development, and who shows great potential for the future. Chen certainly meets all of these criteria. 

Chen is no stranger to awards, having taken home the Apprentice of the Year award at the Housing Heroes Awards in 2017. She joined our electrical team through our Learning, Education and Achievement Programme (LEAP) for tenants in 2015. As part of LEAP, Chen completed an eight-week work placement. The team were so impressed by her enthusiasm and commitment that she was asked to feature in a ‘LEAP Success Stories’ video which premiered at our internal Homes Heroes Awards.

Chen’s hard work paid off and, when she completed her work placement, she was accepted onto an electrical apprenticeship. Over the next three years she completed her NVQ in Electrical Installation, and passed with flying colours.

As well as excelling in the trade, Chen has also developed on a personal level. Chen is a proud advocate for women working in repairs and maintenance. She has presented to girls in schools about women working in construction, paving the way for the next generation of female trades apprentices. Chen also sits on one of our staff equality networks, where she uses her knowledge and experience to empower others to be themselves.

Chen recently completed her apprenticeship and we’re delighted to say that on the 1st February, Chen was employed as a full-time electrician.

Oliver Herrmann, Skills and Enterprise Manager said:

I greatly admire Chen. Working and studying full-time and being an active ambassador for the organisation and community shows maturity and responsibility beyond her years. Chen is fully involved with our core values and volunteers for additional projects and attends event outside working hours.”

Danny Brown, Electrical Supervisor said:

Chen is an absolute delight to work with. It’s no secret that this is a male-dominated industry. Chen is breaking that trend and smashing down barriers in dramatic fashion, often excelling beyond her male counterparts.”


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