HPP helps an apprentice overcome mental health struggles

Ryan Griffiths, Dan Mounsey, and Warren Booth

A Hill’s Panel Products (HPP) apprentice has conquered severe anxiety that he did not finish his education.

Ryan Griffiths dropped out of school in year 10 at age 15 and is now enrolled in a Level 2 Supply Chain Warehouse Operative apprenticeship and additional exams in Maths and English that he never sat.

Griffiths is now 21 and started in the warehouse, said: “It got so bad I couldn’t leave the house for nine months. I had it for six or seven years, and I still don’t like travelling. The bus to work is only five minutes but it’s still a tough thing to do, you tell yourself nothing is going to happen.”

HPP said that he had turned his life around through determination and self-discipline; Griffiths said: “I just started making myself do things again. I started going out and making a play to get a job. Every time I saw an opportunity I went for it rather than saying I’ll do it later.”

“I was desperate to find a job, so I’m buzzing now. I’m glad to get the opportunity, it’s hard to get a job when you have no GCSEs. Everything seems impossible. I saw a cleaning job and even they were asking for GCSEs.”

Dan Mounsey, HPP’s marketing and business development director, said: “Ryan having no qualifications isn’t really an issue for us. It didn’t put us off in the slightest – we’ve learnt from experience that sometimes you need to give people a chance. We see people, we speak to them and make our own judgement. And we’re not just doing it for Ryan, we think he can contribute to our business.”

Griffiths met HPP UK sales manager Chris Essex, and sales office supervisor Deon Phoenix, at the Oldham job fair. After following up on the company opportunity twice, he was invited for an interview which led to a referral to HPP’s regular apprenticeship provider – North Lancs Training Group in Accrington.

When asked if he has any advice for young people in a similar situation, he said: “Don’t let it grasp you. You have to beat it before it beats you. Anything you don’t want to do is just your brain telling you not to do it. It’s not good – you have to do what you don’t want to do to get out of it.”

Joining Griffiths in his apprenticeship cohort is 18-year-old Warren Booth, who started at the company from an eight-week traineeship through North Lancs Training Group, from which he has emerged with flying colours to land his apprenticeship.

Booth said: “I’m glad the traineeship worked out. I really like working here. The team is brilliant, very friendly, we have a laugh, we get the work done quickly and efficiently. It’s really motivating to wake up to a job you like rather than a job you don’t like.”

Ryan and Warren follow in the footsteps of former apprentice Ellie McCartney, who has just completed her Level 3 Business Administration qualification.

Ellie, from Chadderton, had been studying with Oldham College for 18 months following her Level 2 qualification, which she put herself on and passed with a distinction/star at Tameside College, where she also passed her maths GCSE at the second attempt.

She said: “HPP has been really good to me. If I’ve needed any extra time to do college work, they’ve made sure they’ve catered for that. They’ve been the best company I could have asked for to do an apprenticeship with. I’d recommend an apprenticeship to anyone.”

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