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Learner case study: From homeless to homebuilder

Thursday, August 3 2017

Sleeping rough in a Nottingham cemetery, having just lost his home and his livelihood, was John Crew’s darkest moment.

Born and bred in Nottingham, John was getting to know his city better than he’d ever wished for by sleeping on its streets through the cold winter nights of early 2017.

The conditions were harsh and John was desperate. 

“It was alcohol. Instead of paying the bills I would go out and spend all my money on drink,” he said. 

“I started getting behind with my bills and I eventually lost my home.

“It was only then I realised my habit had gone too far.”

One night, while sleeping rough, he was picked up by homeless charity Framework and his life began to turn around.

He was given a place to sleep and food to eat at the charity’s ‘night shelter’ before later securing shared accommodation and being supported with receiving benefits that would help him back on his feet.

That wasn’t enough for John, however, as he was determined to get back into work.

That’s when CT Skills were recommended to him by his support workers – our courses would create a perfect opportunity for him to improve his skills, give him qualifications and, ultimately, get him a job and onto the career ladder.

He came to us in June with a goal of gaining construction qualifications which would allow him to begin working again in a profession he loved. 

At the start of July he began a three week-long Sector Based Work Academy which not only improved John’s confidence, teamwork and employability, but also delivered the qualifications John needed to start working again. 

Indeed he did start work the very next day after completing the course in mid July and his outlook now looks a lot brighter than it did just a few weeks ago.

“I’m going to work every day and I’m making new friends too.

“I’ve now got people who look up to me rather than down on me.

“It’s totally turned my life around from being ‘desperado’ to looking forward to every day.”

John “enjoyed” CT Skills and said the only downside was that he “couldn’t wait to start working again.”

“My course was very informal and my tutor was so laid back – it was more like a friendship. I think that’s a good way of getting people to learn because it made you want to come.”

In a very short space of time, John has proved his immense worth to his employers and has been promoted to the role of foreman – the person in charge of a whole team.

At 51 years of age, John is working on building 434 new student bedrooms in apartments in the centre of Nottingham – the city whose streets he used as a bed just a few months ago.

He’s shown resilience and determination to change his fortunes and forge a career for himself in construction.

His now former tutor at CT Skills, Wes Douce, is delighted for him: “I’m so proud of John for actually getting off his backside and doing something. There’s many out there that get the opportunity and then just throw it away at the end.

“He seemed a very positive individual – he always wanted to get employment and he always had that drive in him.

Wes said it was helping people like John, and seeing his transformation, that makes him want to be a tutor at CT Skills.

“I want people to go straight from being taught by me into employment, so they can feed their families and feel good about themselves.”

John’s story sends a message to anyone struggling, or having fallen on hard times, that there is a way back to leading a successful life. 

He’s gone from homeless to homebuilder.

You too can achieve anything you set your mind to, if you set targets and work hard.

It’s been a pleasure to get to know John and everyone at CT Skills wishes him the very best in his successful career in construction. 


If you would like to speak to CT Skills about this story for further information or comment, please email media@ctskills.co.uk or call Jarrad Johnson on 07779 411978.

By Jarrad Johnson, PR & Communications Executive