News

A brand new space for residents at Longfield House

Aston Group are currently working on three sheltered blocks within the Borough of Waltham Forest. Renovating the kitchens and bathrooms of the individual flats providing interiors that are dignified, personal and enabling. These projects showcase the work we do and the timescales we work to. The experience we have gained has given us a better understanding of how best to work with residents on an individual basis whilst meeting their needs and aspirations with the ongoing refurbishment work.

Longfield House was started on the 14thJanuary with the initial site set up, the first stage was the installation of all the pipe work in the corridors with new heating pipe work and a new fire system.

We held consultation meetings with the residents at Longfield House to inform them of the process and involve them in choices. We complete the communal room first before starting in their flats, this makes a lovely place for residents to relax and use the communal space while flats are being refurbished.

The process is very tightly run, we open a flat on a Monday and close a flat on a Friday, this process works well with continuing communication between the residents and the on site RLO (Resident Liaison Officer).

At the end of March we held an event to open the new communal space to the residents. They all seemed very pleased with lots of smiling faces around the room. The electrical foreman attended the event and said it was great to see so many resident’s happy with the work. We’ve had good feedback from Waltham Forest Council around the project, our process and the resident engagement.

I spoke to the resident’s on the day, it was great opportunity to get their feedback with most of them talking about the ‘WOW’ factor of the space. The wall unit got a lot of attention too with comments like, “the unit is out of this world it’s great workmanship, can they have one in their flats?”.

We demonstrated the new kitchen with the integrated oven door, which drops down and slides under the cooker. They were all very excited and happy to use it. As an RLO (Resident Liaison Officer) on site, it gives true meaning to the daily communication with each resident, from supporting them to choose their paint colour to packing up their flat and seeing their flat for the first time. This adds great value to the Aston Group process that we undertake at the sheltered blocks. This relationship between the residents and ourselves makes our role a lot easier, we are the first point of contact for any issues and I feel it works well.

Shane Marshall RLO (Resident Liaison Officer)

Continuing to deliver quality for residents in Waltham Forest

Aston Group are very proud to announce our mechanical and electrical contract has been renewed with Waltham Forest Council. We now part of a strong collaboration with Morgan Sindall and look forward to working with them on the contract.

The renewal came after an extensive renegotiation process that identified efficiencies and improvements to the service which will mean a better service for tenants and greater value for money for the council.

Cllr Mitchell said: “Morgan Sindall and Aston Group, alongside the council, are committed to building a strong partnership to create a cohesive approach to serving our tenants and leaseholders. Ensuring all our residents have a decent roof over their heads is a top priority for the council – working with high-quality contractors such as Aston Group and Morgan Sindall helps us achieve this. Our ambition is to ensure that everybody in Waltham Forest enjoys a quality of life, that’s why we are committed to delivering a high level of service to our residents.”

Alan Thomas, Director at the Aston Group, said: “This tripartite agreement represents a great opportunity for us to work in a collaborative way providing a more efficient, joined-up service to tenants. It will not just cover repairs and maintenance but other areas of our contract including our commitment to social value programmes in the community.”  

A key part of the contract will be the creation of WalthamFUTURES, a social value initiative opening up training, work experience placements, pre-apprenticeships and employment opportunities for local residents of all ages and backgrounds.

https://walthamforest.gov.uk/content/waltham-forest-housing-takes-new-repairs-contractor

The future is here

You may remember Alex Law, a trainee Quantity Surveyor apprentice who featured in our ‘Supporting our future workforce’ news feature almost three years ago. He has been an apprentice with us for over four years and is now updating us on all the achievements over the last three years!

“After 2 years at the Aston Group I completed my Level 3 BTEC in construction and the Built Environment with a distinction * along with completing an NVQ at Havering College. From there, I went on to start the Level 4 HNC which I’m in my final year of and on track to complete the course with distinction.

Since being at Aston Group my role has grown and I have had more responsibility. Whilst working on the MTC (measured term contract) schools we were undertaking upgrade works to various schools over the Borough of Waltham Forest. Works include; emergency lighting upgrade, lighting upgrade, lightning protection works, boiler room upgrades, fire alarm upgrades and some small construction works such as office/ toilet refurbishments.

I now mainly work as the construction departments Quantity Surveyor where I primarily deal with the loft conversion programme. I begun to price some of the projects, I get all the information together to get each project started, this includes party wall agreements, task price, building control notices and construction drawings. Once the projects are up and running I do monthly claims against works complete, then once the projects are complete I am required to do a final account which closes the job.

I am also now working with the construction manager to cost various tenders from Harlow Council, Friday Hill TMO and Waltham Forest. These range in cost from £1,000 to £175,000

As I am in my final year I am currently looking at part time university courses which will take up the next 3 years but after this I will have a full degree in quantity surveying”.

Visit https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/national-apprenticeship-week-2019 for more information about National Apprenticeship Week 2019.

Championing National Apprenticeship Week 2019

Gemma Lake is one of our newest Administrative Apprentices of only 6 weeks. She’s based in our Wood Street Office in Walthamstow. This is Gemma’s journey from arriving at Aston Group through to her aims for the future.

“I originally applied for my current apprenticeship through apprenticeships.gov.uk I then had a phone call from Waltham Forest Adult Learning Centre informing me that I have been selected for an interview. The college assessed my needs and capabilities for a potential apprenticeship within Aston Group.

The interview with Aston Group went well and I found out everything I needed to know. 

When I found out I got the business admin job I came into the office and had an induction carried out as well as meeting my team. I have been allocated a mentor/buddy who will be guiding me throughout the apprenticeship programme. As well as my mentor, everyone else in the office makes me feel welcome and they assist me with day to day office tasks.

I decided to choose a business apprenticeship because I wanted to gain more knowledge and add more qualifications to my name. I have worked in many jobs before but this is my first office job and I felt an apprenticeship was an opportunity to work my way up in a company. When my apprenticeship finishes I wish to stay on and work my way up and one day hopefully become a director”. 

We welcome her into the Aston Group family and hope she fulfils her ambitions for the future.

Visit https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/national-apprenticeship-week-2019 for more information about National Apprenticeship Week 2019.

Shining a light on our Apprentice, Harry Lee

Aston Group are extremely proud of being able to support our local community by offering Apprenticeships as part of our long term contracts. In addition to providing employment opportunities, and upskilling our local people, we are contributing to growing a pool of talent that we can recruit from in the future. As the shortage of skilled tradespeople within the industry becomes more apparent, we hope that by passing on our knowledge and passion for these roles, we can ensure a diverse workforce is in place for many years to come.

Aston Group have already had many successful Apprentices, some who have gone on to become part of our Management Team. We are delighted to say that we have the same high hopes for one of our current apprentices Harry Lee, 20, who has been working with us for over six months as a trainee Quantity Surveyor.

Harry, who has a bone condition called Spondyloepiphyseal Dysplasia, studied Level 3 BTEC Construction and Built Environment at Havering College gained an Overall Grade Distinction, Distinction, Merit (DDM). He realised that he would struggle working at a physical job with his disability, so after speaking to fellow students, career advisors and family he decided to pursue a career as a Quantity Surveyor which fitted his needs better.

Harry was initially chosen by Havering College as the best candidate to put forward to Aston Group and has since been welcomed into the family. Doing an apprenticeship has allowed Harry to learn on the job whilst splitting his time studying, whilst allowing him to earn money to help support his education.

He works closely with three Quantity Surveyors at Aston Group who guide him through his day-to-day tasks. He has a great understanding of all the relevant programmes and manages his time well. He is gaining a great understanding of life on site and in the office. This opportunity has allowed him to experience real client projects working with Waltham Forest Council and L&Q. He has been involved with Planning, MS Project, account management/reconciliation, and client communication.

His Line Manager Andrea Truccas said “ Harry has continuously exceeded Manager expectations in the role of Trainee Quantity Surveyor. Harry effectively manages accounts in a proper manner, and strictly following the QS’s team instruction. He has a positive attitude, he is fast and accurate; all of the strict client deadlines have been met. Harry manages his time well and demonstrates exceptional professionalism and conscientiousness about quality of work. Harry is working well independently and is a team player.”

Harry said “My future plan is to finish my HNC with the highest possible grade I can and progress onto University and get my degree while working with Aston, I aim to become a fully qualified Quantity Surveyor.

Aston Group are excited about what the future holds for Harry, and hope that we have a long and successful partnership together.

Brightening up an area for our NHS Ambulance Crew

Aston Group, Osborne, Travis Perkins and Waltham Forest teamed up with NHS Ambulance Crew in Waltham Forest to transform a grey corner plot into a vibrant green space for staff to go and wind down after a hard shift.

The site is a base for around 150 ambulance staff providing essential care for surrounding boroughs, it was important for them to have somewhere they can sit and rest before the next call out.

The team from Astons helped the off duty Ambulance crew, who gave up their days off to help build several raised beds made from new and up-cycled materials, creating a herb bed and raised flower beds. Councillor Louise Mitchell from Waltham Forest dropped by to see the project who also provided some funds for plants.

The project was a complete success, everyone got properly involved and crew were appreciative of the support. The Paramedics were able to enjoy a pre shift coffee in the refurbished area in autumnal sunshine. They have even personalised it by painting a mural of the resident cat, Defib, on the side of the shed!

“All the staff I have seen have all said how great the place looks now. They have been saying that the plants have made such a big difference to the area compared to what it looked like before. Staff from other nearby stations said they would now consider taking their break at Walthamstow.”