National Apprenticeship Week at Royal Star & Garter

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Olivia Watson, apprentice.

Apprentices at Royal Star & Garter have spoken about the impact studying is having on them and their career.

Lina Largo-Mejia and Karen Jakeman are among several apprentices at the charity’s Surbiton Home, and were speaking during National Apprenticeship Week, which runs from 6 -12 February.

Royal Star & Garter provides loving, compassionate care to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia, and also has Homes in Solihull and High Wycombe.

Their qualifications are being funded by the charity through the government’s apprenticeship levy.

Lina joined the charity in 2020 and is the Surbiton Home’s Lead Housekeeper. She is in the early days of her 18-month-long Level 3 Management Apprenticeship course, which she started in December last year. She said: “It’s very interesting and will be very helpful to my work at Royal Star & Garter. I’m learning about team leadership, how to manage a team and how to bring them together. I’ve only just started but it’s going very well and I’m enjoying it. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and what I learn will be good for me and good for the Home – I can share the knowledge with everyone around me and especially the team that I manage. I know the next 18 months will be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it, and it’s motivating me.”

Karen has been with Royal Star & Garter since joining as a Healthcare Assistant in 2016. In 2021, she qualified as a Nursing Associate (NA) following a two-year course, in which she was supported by Royal Star & Garter. She is now about to embark on an 18-month apprenticeship, based at Kingston University, to top up her NA qualification and become a Registered Nurse. She said: “When I was a little girl I wanted to be a Nurse. So doing a Nursing Degree Apprenticeship is a dream come true really. It’s an 18-month course and like the Student Nursing Associate (SNA) course, I’ll be juggling work, family life and university at the same time, and going on work placements. However the placements I’ll be going on now will be longer than the SNA placements – around two to three months – and in more intense environments, such as hospital ICUs (intensive care units) and A&E. It’s great that I’m able to do this through an apprenticeship, and I’m very excited.”

Karen said she was fortunate to work for an organisation which invested in its staff. “Royal Star & Garter has always been incredibly supportive,” she said. “You’re recognised for the work that you do here. They really value you and give you an opportunity to develop and learn. So I’m grateful to be given this opportunity, because I couldn’t have afforded to leave work and do a three-year nursing degree.”

Malcolm Brown is the Learning and Development Manager at Royal Star & Garter. He said: “Apprenticeships provide hands-on training and the chance to gain invaluable knowledge and experience while studying. And at Royal Star & Garter, they’re working in an outstanding care setting, and learning best practice. We’re delighted that Lina, Karen and other staff members are going down the apprenticeship route, and to be able to support them on this exciting journey.”

If you are interested in an apprenticeship at Royal Star & Garter, please email Malcolm at malcolm.brown@starandgarter.org

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Olivia Watson, apprentice.
Karen Jakeman
Lina Largo

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