Council apprentices help rural community achieve goals

An overgrown churchyard in East Stratton is clear for people to enjoy for the first time in years thanks to an ‘A-team’ of apprentices from Winchester City Council.

Residents of East Stratton have been busy raising funds to improve their village amenities for many years and the most recent project is to restore their parish church and grounds.

The goal to clear overgrown boundaries and recover headstones was a particular challenge for local residents and would have taken many weeks and many people to achieve.

Winchester City Council’s apprentices’ team (the A-Team) selected the project from a range of opportunities suggested by residents and community groups.

A team of 10 young apprentices secured funding from the vInspired cashpoint programme and set about planning the one-day event to transform the church grounds.

Pat Craze, who has been project-managing the church restoration, said

On Saturday the sun was shining and the apprentices successfully cleared the boundaries and moved a pile of headstones that had been buried in the overgrowth for over 40 years. The community can now progress the project to create a wildflower meadow and update local gravestone records. To receive this type of outside assistance from the apprentices is just fantastic and will benefit all of the community.

The apprentices were challenged to find a community project that offered them a team task that would benefit the residents of Winchester. Having already collected food to boost supplies for Winchester Basics Bank, they took on this project with enthusiasm.

Griff Wood, who joined the City Council as an apprentice last year, said

This seemed like a challenge that we could never achieve in one day. We worked as a team and grew in confidence, planning the day and securing the help and finance needed. To see how much we achieved at the end of day was so motivating. Apprenticeships are a great way to develop skills and the challenge will help me show how well I work in a team.

Cllr Stephen Godfrey is the Winchester City Council Portfolio Holder responsible for supporting apprenticeships. He said

The City Council is committed to helping young people obtain work-related skills and experience. We introduced a community challenge to help them bond together as a group and to help them develop personal and communication skills. This group is a real credit to the Council and themselves. I am very pleased with their results.