Using personal experience to help land an apprenticeship

Monday 4 January
Using personal experience to help land an apprenticeship

January 04 at 07:49

At the age of five, Kendra Deans was diagnosed with hearing impairment. Since then she has been required to wear two hearing aids and has specialised equipment at her Fenton home to help her in her day-to-day life.

But now the 16-year-old has drawn on her personal experiences to secure a business administration apprenticeship with Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service to help others with hearing loss.

The former Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy pupil joined the service’s Central Prevent and Protect department in August.

The team work countywide to assess and install specialist equipment for deaf people and those who struggling with their hearing.

Kendra said, “I joined the fire cadets in Newcastle and got talking to a couple of people there about apprenticeships.

“I thought that would be a good option for me; it was either that or go to college to study a subject I wasn’t really interested in.”

Now Kendra works five days a week travelling around Staffordshire assessing the needs of those with hearing loss.

If someone is assessed as needing help, the team install a variety of equipment including vibrating pads which are linked to the smoke alarm and placed underneath residents’ pillow to alert them if there is a fire.

They can also allocate them with hip pagers which work in the same way.

Kendra said, “I really enjoy my job. One day we could be in Stoke-on-Trent and the next we could be in Lichfield or Burton.

“Every day is different but my favourite part is meeting people.”

She added, “I enjoy going out into the community and I think people relate to me because I understand what they’re going through.

“When someone tells me that their hearing aids aren’t very good then I understand that, because I have trouble with mine too. I can also help them with using the equipment because I have the same sort of thing at home.”

Using her own initiative Kendra has also embarked on an ambitious research project consulting with more than 40 fire services around the country to establish what tools they use and assess whether new equipment would be more beneficial for families in Staffordshire.

She said, “There could be something out there that is better than what we’ve got now. At the moment I’ve had responses from about 20 services and I am waiting for replies off about 20 more.

“If I do find that there is better equipment available out there then I would hope we could get some funding and bring it to Staffordshire.”

Over the next year Kendra hopes to complete her Level 3 to be able to apply for a permanent job with the service.

She’s now been put forward for Apprentice of the Year in The Sentinel’s Business Awards 2016, sponsored by Skills Staffordshire.

James Russell, temporary community safety lead for Central Prevent and Protect said, “Kendra’s passion for the role and for providing the best possible solution to our customers shines through every day and has been enhanced by her complete understanding of needs due to her own hearing impairment.”

Article source: Laura James, Stoke Sentinel