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Ocean celebrates 20th Birthday!

This month all at Ocean Housing are reflecting on two decades worth of achievement and £240m of investment in Cornwall.

Employees, stakeholders and tenants came together at a special event held at Ocean Housing’s head office on February 7 – twenty years to the day that the Group began work in 2000.

“We’ve come a long way over the last 20 years,” said Mark Gardner, group chief executive, while speaking at the event.

“The transfer of council housing stock to the trust was the biggest ever investment in improving homes in the area.

“At that time, we made a pledge to improve the quality and standards of housing, and £28.5 million was invested to make social housing a better place to live.”

Over the last 20 years, the company has built 1,406 properties, including more than 1,000 houses, nearly 300 flats, and 36 bungalows.

“Our vision is to be an innovative provider of quality homes and services, with residents and staff at the heart of Ocean, and Ocean at the heart of the community.”

Established as Restormel Housing Trust (RHT), the company rebranded to Ocean Housing in 2003, and relocated to its current offices. In 2004, The Ocean Group structure was introduced as the parent company of Ocean Housing, and Gilbert & Goode, which joined the group a year later.

Gilbert & Goode was established in 1972, and is now one of the largest construction businesses in the region. It was acquired by Ocean Housing in 2005 to construct the group’s social housing developments, as well as expand the portfolio of traditional building and contracting work. Its profits are gift-aided back into Ocean to invest in social housing.

Since the takeover, the company has seen considerable growth. The number of employees has grown from 149 to 233, and the housing stock has increased from 3,502 to 4,642 properties, many of which have been built by sister company Gilbert & Goode.

It has also completed 247,784 day-to-day repairs, installed 4,286 kitchens, 3,473 bathrooms, and 2,063 central heating systems.

Judy Sturtridge lives in St Austell, and has been a tenant since the 1970s, formerly through Restormel Borough Council. She has seen many improvements to her home under the ownership of Ocean Housing.

She said: “I’ve always lived on the same estate. The area used to be quite run down, but Ocean has put in new double glazing and central heating, and replaced kitchens and bathrooms throughout many of the houses here.

“There has been a complete transformation to the area, and I’m proud to call it home. It has been a great place to raise a family, and there’s a real sense of community. Ocean has played an important role in this, being involved with the resident’s association, organising events such as coach trips and Christmas parties for us all to get involved in.

“There has been a complete transformation to the area (…) Ocean has played an important role in this” – Judy Sturtridge, St Austell resident.

“Everyone at Ocean is so approachable, they’re very easy to deal with. You often see members of the team visiting the area, and if I’ve ever needed something repaired then they are very responsive.”

During the celebrations, 16 members of staff were recognised for long service, having worked with the company since it took over the social housing stock from Restormel Borough Council in 2000.

Nile’s Bakery provided much appreciated sustenance, as guests shared their fond memories and took part in a quiz of the last 20 years.

Staff have had a 20 day countdown on their computer monitors leading up to the day, showing pictures and facts from each year. Screens around the building were also fill of pictures from over last 20 years – including some big blasts from the past!

Ocean has ambitious plans for the future, aiming to build over 2,000 new homes by 2030.

Mr Gardner adds: “Since 2000, Ocean Housing has invested more than £240 million within Cornwall, through community involvement, property development, jobs, and apprenticeships.

“Our vision is to be an innovative provider of quality homes and services, with residents and staff at the heart of Ocean, and Ocean at the heart of the community.”

More information about Ocean Group can be found here.

National Apprenticeship Week: Why an Ocean Housing apprenticeship could be perfect for you!

Have you ever considered an apprenticeship? At Ocean we recruit in a range of areas, and have a proud record of supporting our local community and education.

Towards the end of last year we were delighted to recruit four new apprentices to join our growing team. Now, coinciding with National Apprenticeship Week 2020 (Feb 3-7) we are looking forward to finding our next wave of recruits!

Ocean offers vocational training in a variety of trades and business services. Our latest cohort of apprentices studied electrics, heating, and plumbing. This year’s apprentice vacancies will include Business Administration, Plumbing & Heating and a Mason role.

“We have a strong reputation for our apprenticeship scheme,” said Mark Gardner, Ocean Housing Group’s chief executive. “And I think this is reflected in the quality of applications.

“We offer a competitive salary, paying the national minimum wage rather than the standard apprentice rate, and provide good job prospects for the apprentices once they have finished training.

“This has helped us to attract a wide range of candidates, not just school leavers, but also those looking for a change in career.”

Video – Hear from a former Ocean apprentice

Emelye explains why a placement with Ocean Housing was the perfect choice for her:

Ocean recently won an award for outstanding commitment to training at the Excellence in Business Training Awards 2019, and was also recognised as the runner-up in the outstanding commitment to apprenticeships category.

33-year old Mike Barnard has joined Ocean as an apprentice electrician. He said: “I always thought apprenticeships were for teenagers, but this is definitely not the case. I really enjoy being tested and learning a new trade.

“Apprenticeships are not just for teenagers

“I worked in leisure for 12 years, then moved to retail as a deputy manager of a supermarket. But I wanted a better work-life balance, so when I saw Ocean was recruiting for apprentices, I started to do my research. Having purchased a shared ownership home with Ocean, I was already aware of the company. I also have friends who work here and gave it a good recommendation.

“The career change is definitely working for me, as I have already seen my children more in the past six weeks, compared to the last six months. Ocean has been fantastic – they put a lot of effort into looking after their staff, and I even met the CEO on my first day.”

Ocean Housing Group actively promotes the construction and social housing sector as a career of choice. Through links with the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), we have been involved in a series of school visits to talk about careers in construction.

An apprenticeship at Ocean Housing could be perfect for you

Looking for an apprenticeship? Brandan Crocker and Mike Barnard are two of Ocean’s most recent apprentices.

Heather Taylor, HR coordinator at Ocean Housing Group added: “It’s well known that there is a skills shortage in the construction sector and we are always trying to attract more women in construction, which is why we work so closely with local schools to try and improve the perception of the industry, and the jobs available.

“Our apprenticeship scheme is helping to build a pipeline of qualified trade and admin staff, which will help to address the increasing housing demand within our sector.”

For more information on the jobs and apprenticeships available visit: oceanhousing.com/home/about-us/jobs

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