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Local teen secures apprenticeship at Queen’s Award-winning charity after volunteering success


A Leigh-based charity is celebrating the hire of its latest apprentice ahead of National Apprenticeship Week (5-11 February).

Compassion in Action (CIA) offered local teenager Cory Owens an apprenticeship after he successfully volunteered with the charity’s warehouse and distribution team throughout its annual Christmas Toy Appeal.

The 17-year-old impressed Chief Executive Pam Gilligan and staff with his teamwork, dedication and commitment to living the values of the organisation.

“Cory made this opportunity happen for himself by being reliable, open to learning and working hard during what is one of the busiest times of year for CIA,” said Pam.

“He was an invaluable support to our driver, Robert Sleigh, as we achieved our mission to deliver more than a thousand toys and 500 food hampers during Christmas week 2023.

‘Being able to support deserving young people, who were born and raised in this town, to get on in life is amazing. We look forward to watching Cory grow and learn valuable new ‘Skills for Life’ over the next 12 months, which is the theme of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week.”

Cory is now working towards a Level 2 Supply Chain Warehouse Operative qualification, with on-the-job learning across the charity’s sites in Atherton, Lowton and on Leigh Road. His principal duties include health and safety checks, as well as assisting Robert with delivering furniture to vulnerable families who have been referred to the charity by its partner agencies – including Wigan Council.

“I am very grateful to Pam for this opportunity and to my colleague Rob for all his support,” said Cory, who is a former Lowton C of E High School pupil. “I am excited to get started and it means a lot to know that the work I will be doing is for families who live in my town, and who are having difficult times in their lives.”

A second apprentice at CIA, Nina Lomax, 18, is part-way through her Level 3 Business Administration apprenticeship. The former Westleigh School pupil received a commendation from Pam for helping to organise a party celebrating the eighth anniversary of the charity’s veterans’ brunch.

“It was very rewarding to be able to do something nice for our local heroes,” said Nina. “The brunch is an important weekly social event for them, and part of my role involves welcoming the veterans every Thursday at Patrick House. I am very pleased with how my apprenticeship is going and grateful to the charity for all the chances I have had to learn new skills. I have been on a journey, which has seen my confidence massively improve from when I first started.”

Chloe Gilligan, 18, has previously walked in Nina and Cory’s steps – having completed her own Business Administration apprenticeship at the charity in 2023. Her skills, abilities and performance far exceeded the requirements of her role – earning her a distinction and promotion to the position of Office Manager.

“Since being promoted, I have taken on other responsibilities that are key to the work of the charity, which I value highly as I feel a sense of success and trust from my CEO and colleagues,” said Chloe. “I am currently receiving training around finance, as well as continuing to manage our delivery and collections function, alongside our referral process. Apprenticeships are beneficial as they give you the opportunity to gain skills and face real-life challenges in the workplace, with valued support. I am proud of what I have achieved and my new role within the charity.”

All three apprenticeships have been Government-funded and facilitated by Smart Training & Recruitment Ltd.

National Apprenticeship Week is an annual week-long celebration that brings together businesses and apprentices across the country to shine a light on the positive impact that apprenticeships make to individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

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Nina Lomax

Cory Owens

Chloe Gilligan