Trust apprentices adapt to the coronavirus pandemic

Posted: 08/02/21

Apprentices at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) have adapted to new ways of working due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A provider of mental health and disability services, CNTW currently has 384 enrolled apprentices across a number of areas including administration, finance and IT, offering a way for people to learn and earn.

When the pandemic hit, many apprentices were told to continue their work and qualifications from home. Apprentices are among many employees whose normal working lives have been disrupted.

Michael Bottomley is a finance apprentice at CNTW. “I cannot stress enough how much help some of the remote working functions on Microsoft Teams have been to support me through my learning,” he says, “and the support my colleagues have provided me with has been essential to my success.

“I have continued studying my AAT and have now been able to sit my first few exams!” Michael’s exams had been cancelled earlier in the pandemic, but he was able to continue doing live classes via video conferences, and has now scored and an impressive 89% and 90% in the tests.

“At times it can get a bit lonely working from home, especially as I previously worked in the bustling hospitality industry, but at least I can spend my lunch break with my girlfriend as she is also working from home. I tend to put the radio on in the background quietly, so that I have some background noise. We have recently got a new a puppy Cocker Spaniel, who sits on my feet while I’m working!

“I try to take an early morning walk at about 6:30am, to refresh me and get me ready for my day ahead. Now that I work from home it’s all too easy to wake up just before I start work, as my only commute is walking downstairs! But I still feel the importance of having some time to myself – whether this be a drive to work, or walking the dog before work – and I think it really helps with my performance throughout the day.”

Philip Rose became an admin apprentice on Shoredrift Ward at Hopewood Park after embarking on a career change.
He said: “My role involves working as a ward clerk, covering the day-to-day administrative tasks on the ward. I find this to be really rewarding and have received nothing but encouragement from the team.”

Despite his desire to continue working on the ward, Philip was sent to work from home turning his dining room into an office. After several weeks at home, he’s now back at work after jumping at an offer to come back in. Philip and other apprentices have been helping by packing scrubs to send to frontline staff.

“Being an apprentice can be hard work but every day is different and there are always new challenges,” he said. “Adapting old skills and learning new ones is extremely rewarding.”

Hannah Calder, a procurement apprentice, is also working from home. She said: “I’m doing my normal work from home so it doesn’t feel too different but it can be hard to concentrate sometimes.

“Some days are busier than others but on days when I’m not as busy I’m able to do my coursework.”

Annette Connor, Apprenticeships and Career Development Lead at CNTW, said: “This has been a difficult time for everyone and our apprentices have experienced a lot of disruption with their roles in recent months.

“We’re really proud of the way they have responded during the pandemic and have adapted to ensure the work still gets done to a high standard. They have been an asset to their teams in this difficult time.”

CNTW offers apprenticeships for anyone aged 16 and over. Find out more about the Trust’s apprenticeships here.