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Two apprentices from the Aylesbury Estate and Walworth are helping to transform their neighbourhood after qualifying as demolition operatives.

Afeez Basiru, 23, and Harry Tetsill, 24, both work on the first phase of the Aylesbury Estate regeneration project with Notting Hill Genesis’ demolition contractors Erith, helping to demolish the empty blocks in preparation for hundreds of new homes, half of which will provide affordable housing.

They are the first apprentices to come through NHG and work directly on the build programme, having been working towards their NVQ Level 2 for almost two years, ever since coming to see the Aylesbury team’s community connector, Chris Cotton, for advice on a new career.

Afeez, who had been working as a support worker and mentor in a school until his contract ended, said: “I needed to find full-time work and this opportunity came at the right time. I met with Chris and spoke about what I’d like to do, and he gave me the opportunity to have an interview.

“I love the work here and am moving up bit by bit. I just want to carry on now and become a site manager and project manager.”

The site is a place Afeez knows well, having grown up on the Aylesbury Estate himself. He added: “I used to play in some of these buildings so it’s a bit weird for me, but it’s all for a good cause. It will be nice to know I’ve played a part in creating this new neighbourhood – it will be something to tell my children one day.”

Harry, who lives in Walworth, followed his brother into demolition through an apprenticeship.

“Because I’m local they got me working here, like my brother did, but he has moved to a different site now. I thought this was something different – I had always worked in bars or warehouses and this seemed interesting.

“I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m working with a great group of people and learning something new every day. I would certainly recommend apprenticeships – it’s a great way to get into a new career.”

Steve Bennett is the project manager for Erith and has been overseeing Afeez and Harry’s work on the site. He said: “They have worked really hard and having this qualification future-proofs them in this industry as there is so much work going on around here. They will always be able to get a job in their local area.

“To bring local guys through and give them experience brings a great sense of pride to all of us and we hope to make a real difference in their lives and help them move forward.”

Chris Cotton, community connector for the Aylesbury Team at Notting Hill Genesis, added: “We have pledged to provide more than 1,400 training, job and apprenticeship opportunities to people from Southwark as part of the Aylesbury regeneration and it is great to see Afeez and Harry making such a success of it. They have worked really hard to get where they are now and we are really proud of them.

“When they first came to see me I recognised the potential they had, so it’s great to see them fulfilling that and making a difference to their local area.”

If you are interested in a new career or training opportunity, please contact Valerie Alaro on the Aylesbury Regeneration Team at valerie.alaro@nhhg.org.uk.

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