Charity begins at home

Posted on 23/07/2015

If you were to ask most married couples whether they could work together, the typical answer is likely to be “definitely not”, but a Sheffield-based entrepreneur has gone one stage further, recruiting her husband as an apprentice after securing support from Skills Made Easy, a unique programme which is run by the Sheffield City Region’s Local Enterprise Partnership.  

FaithStar provides help and specialist support to charities and not-for-profit organisations working in the faith sector. The company was launched by experienced community development worker Shahida Saddique and after quickly discovering her services were in high demand, she called upon assistance from Skills Made Easy to help her business grow.

Skills Made Easy provides impartial support and advice to businesses in the Sheffield City Region who are looking to upskill their workforces, as well as offering assistance to those looking to recruit apprentices and within just one month of launching, it helped Faithstar to secure it’s first apprentice.

During Faithstar’s first twelve months of trading, the company has recruited two apprentices and more recently, Shahida’s husband Arshid became the third apprentice to join the business.

Under Shahida’s leadership, Faithstar delivers a wide range of support relating to governance, finance and mentoring support to a wide range of faith and community-based charities throughout Yorkshire and even counts the Bishop of Sheffield and the Bishop of Doncaster amongst its clients, however, she believes her trio of apprentices have proved to be vital to the growth of the new business.

Shahida Saddique, founder, Faithstar said:

“From day one I wanted my business to be just as much about investing in people, as it is about helping volunteer-led organisations and wanted to give apprentices an opportunity to build a career with the business.

"Finding the right advice proved to be a little more difficult that I had originally anticipated, that is until I contacted Skills Made Easy. Through my previous work in the community sector I recognised many young people often just need a chance and the help and I was genuinely surprised how straightforward the whole process was.

“As the needs of my business changed, Skills Made Easy were able to help me with the recruitment process, as well as helping my apprentices to benefit from training that’s directly relevant to their jobs and all three have settled into the company well and making a terrific contribution to the company.”

“My first two apprentices, Jess and Zeinab, settled into the company quickly but I never imagined employing my husband as an apprentice – it was something that I didn’t think possible!”

As well as helping Faithstar to recruit three apprentices, Skills Made Easy helped to identify and secure funding towards training, as well as helping Shahida to introduce a living wage – rather than the standard national minimum apprenticeship wage.

John Baker, Account Manager, Skills Made Easy said:

“When most people think of apprentices, they imagine individuals who are just leaving school and taking the first steps on their career path. The reality is almost anyone can become an apprentice, but one of the greatest barriers facing older people entering into apprenticeships can be the costs of training.  Skills Made Easy works with many different colleges and training providers meaning we can often secure funding towards the costs of training for older apprentices which is not usually available directly from training providers.

“Arshid clearly had a passion to change his career path, and is currently working towards a level two accountancy qualification and, along with the other apprentices at Faithstar are playing a valuable role in the business.”

As well as overseeing the operational management at Faithstar, Shahida sits on the Local Enterprise Board  as chair of the Sheffield Association for the vulnerable and excluded. Prior to forming Faithstar Shahida spent more than ten years specialising in community adult education, working on behalf of the Church of England where she helped to forge links between churches and their local communities.