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Brhane’s story

Youthbuilders’ Stories

Brhane arrived in the UK, as an unaccompanied child refugee aged 14. Undeterred, he studied hard and won an apprenticeship with Durkan. Brhane was Youthbuild UK Young Builder of the Year in 2023

A tough start, few prospects and a short life

Brhane arrived in the UK when he was just 14 after a perilous journey across Europe as an unaccompanied asylum seeker, escaping conflict in Africa.

As the child of a poor family his only prospect of building a decent life would have been to study. However, the most likely outcome for poor young men in Eritrea is 5 years conscription, and war. If he managed to survive, he and his family would have been locked in an unending cycle of poverty.

He didn’t speak a word of English when he arrived, he had no family or friends here. Choosing to move out of care at 16, he was initially placed in shared accommodation with complete strangers who had mental health problems, and little desire to improve their situation.

Carving out a future

His prospects may not have seemed great. But in just four years this determined and resilient young man has learnt English, completed a Level 2 qualification in Plumbing and Heating and then a L3 in Electrical Installation in 2020 during lockdown. His exemplary behaviour and commitment led to him being offered his own 1 bed accommodation.

Brhane then had to do the really hard part – find an employer to offer him an apprenticeship.

Determined to secure his apprenticeship Brhane bought a motorbike, passed his test and progressed to a car to deliver food full-time to fund himself. Every day he searched for apprenticeship vacancies on sites such as Indeed and Monster. It took him the best part of two years to finally get to his chance.

Step up Durkan and Joe Brennan Training

Brhane grabbed an opportunity for an apprenticeship on Durkan’s Higgs Yard project in Lambeth. He impressed at interview – not only by his exceptional back story, but also by his calm, mature and quietly determined attitude.

Brhane started on site in January 2023 and is working towards completing his NVQ portfolio. He is doing very well, progressing steadily, and constantly impresses his supervisor with his eagerness to learn more.

Brhane loves his job. He is constantly learning new skills and carrying out new tasks – not least because he is very persistent in ‘encouraging’ (bugging!) his supervisor to allow him to take on more work. 

Brhane is proud of having carved out his own future – moving from child migrant to the point where he is now only months away (in late 2023) from being a qualified electrician.  

Joe Brennan Training and Durkan continue to provide additional pastoral support for Brhane. Post   qualification, he has a plan to build his skills and experience before moving into a supervisory role – or starting his own SME company.

Recognising his incredible achievements, Brhane was awarded the coveted title of Youthbuild UK Young Builder of the Year 2023 in the 18-24 category.

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