Boosting music and arts venues in York

1 December 2023

Boosting grassroots music venues

We’ll be helping to boost community places and spaces hosting live music, arts and culture, whilst providing our free hands-on work experience opportunities for local young people.

Our first project in this new programme saw us help popular York music venue, The Fulford Arms, to become more accessible for gig-goers with mobility issues or physical disabilities, by creating a ramp at the entrance of the venue and building a sound booth to provide a safer experience for audiences and music tech teams.

This first project has been co-funded by Barclaycard as part of their ongoing involvement in the live music industry. This activity supporting grassroots music and arts venues sits alongside wider Barclays community activity, including our work with the Barclays Community Football Fund supporting local sports teams and clubs. Previous VIY projects supported by Barclaycard include Aaja Music in South London and Nottingham Arts Theatre.

The next four projects will follow in 2024.

Cllr Pete Kilbane, Deputy Leader of City of York Council and Executive Member for Economy and Transport, said:

“We’re very pleased to be working with Volunteer It Yourself and Barclaycard, both to improve our city’s much-loved entertainment venues like the Fulford Arms, and to enable the next generation of tradespeople to develop skills that will help them build rewarding careers.

“In our four-year council plan, One City for All, we committed to making York a fairer and more equal place for all. This project will ensure that gig-goers will have equal access to this venue, and that young people at risk of economic and social exclusion can obtain the skills and experience they need.

“There really is no substitute for on-site experience of the kind that this project offers, where young people can see first-hand the difference made by their hard work to their community, as well as to their own futures.”

Daniel Mathieson, Head of Sponsorship at Barclaycard, said:

“We are excited for this project to kick off and see the benefits the refurbishments will make to the local community and young people who are volunteering at The Fulford Arms.  We are working with VIY to support local young people gain skills and qualifications and help give them a headstart to their working life.”

Hear from the young people in The York Press here

See Fix Radio on site with us too!

About the UK Shared Prosperity Fund

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. For more information, visit

VIY launches new programme in Hull

21 November 2023

Boosting pride in place

Our first project in Hull has seen us work in partnership with EMS, a local charity who work with the community to alleviate food and fuel poverty with sustainable solutions, and over 20 local young people to transform a disused allotment on the Orchard Park Estate into a community hub and growing garden for local residents and school students.

The land, now leased by Sirius Academy from the council, had no running water and had been affected by anti-social behaviour. Along with over 20 young people from the academy, all disengaged in mainstream education, we built a raincatcher on top of an existing shipping container to help to cultivate it into a garden to grow produce for local food parcels, along with protected seating for learners and fencing around the area and upcoming orchard to prevent unauthorised entry or vandalism.

Hear the impact of this project from local PCSO, Dawn

An additional classroom unit has been installed on the site, complete with seating and facilities for refreshments, which will be used by the school for extra learning space including classes related to outdoor learning with EMS.

23 students from Sirius Academy, all disengaged in mainstream education and at risk of unemployment, thrived getting hands-on work experience throughout this project right on their own doorstep – a space they’re now proud of and feel a sense of ownership over to grow and look after for the future.

The container was donated by the Hull Citywide Developer Partnership which includes Keepmoat and Strata Homes. They are supporting VIY’s projects in Hull, through co-funding, materials, donations and local colleagues volunteering their time. All paint will be provided by VIY Paint Partner, Dulux.

Our second VIY project has seen us create an outdoor learning and play area for children living in and supported by a local Women’s Centre, who provide a range of holistic services for women and children affected by domestic abuse.

Alex Codd, Assistant Director of Economic Development and Regeneration at Hull City Council and member of Hull’s UK Shared Prosperity Board said: “Hull City Council fully supports this project through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. It is great to see the funds being used to turn an underused area into a great outdoor facility where people are able to grow, enjoy fresh air, and get involved in their community. Our green spaces are critical assets in a densely populated city and this scheme is a great example of vacant space being used for the benefit of the local community.”

John Pickles, Community Growing Coordinator at EMS Ltd, who will support this new site, said: 

“VIY have brought in their skills and expertise in construction to help turn some of the wish-list proposals for this site into concrete reality. The key elements that they have built give the site a much greater chance of long-term sustainability.”

Mark Burley, Social Value and Partnership Manager for Keepmoat Homes and the Hull Citywide Developer Partnership said: “Whilst we do not have any new housing developments in Orchard Park it is important that we support projects like this in the city, we have been a long-standing partner with VIY and EMS whom have been working on this project. Improving mental wellbeing of young people via access to green health is so important and that is why we wanted to get involved.”


About the UK Shared Prosperity Fund

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. For more information, visit

VIY expands work across Norfolk tackling loneliness and isolation

13 November 2023

We’re excited to be working with Norfolk Community Foundation through the UK Government Know Your Neighbourhood Fund to renovate six community spaces over the next 18 months in Great Yarmouth, all with the aim of increasing volunteering and tackling isolation in the community.

Since 2022, thanks to support from the likes of UK Community Renewal Fund, Orbit Housing and Norwich Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL), we have refurbished 29 community spaces in Norfolk, including grassroots sports clubs like Norwich Lads Boxing Club, creating a growing garden space in Holt Youth Project and transforming the newly reopened Gorleston Community Hub. In total we’ve enabled over 250 volunteering experiences for young people in the county.

Our first project in partnership with Norfolk Community Foundation has seen us work with the Norfolk and Suffolk Islamic Mission, a local charity based at the Masjid-At Tauweed on Northgate Street – the first mosque built in Great Yarmouth and the surrounding areas over 20 years ago. We’ve modernised the kitchen area and redecorated rooms in their community space, to make it a more welcoming space for those coming to pray, to be with others and take part in community activities.

Working through the People From Abroad team through Norfolk County Council, 29 young people built their skills, confidence and a brighter future by volunteering on this project, as they settle into life with refugee status in the UK. In total, over 80 young people supported by this team have volunteered across four other VIY projects in the local area, including at New Routes Integration, a centre which supports refugees with housing, employability and social integration, and Norfolk Community Arts – a space for people from all backgrounds including those with disabilities to be involved in music.

We’re looking forward to five more projects in Great Yarmouth – with the next to come early in the new year.

VIY Mentor Dom guides young learners at our project with Norfolk & Suffolk Islamic Mission

CEO shortlisted for Special Recognition

17 October 2023

Our co-founder and CEO, Tim Reading, has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Special Recognition category at this year’s On The Tools awards.

The awards, hosted by On The Tools – the UK’s largest online construction based community, celebrate the best of UK construction – across a range of trade categories and awards including Community Hero and Training Excellence, culminating in the Tradesperson of the Year award. See the winners of the 2022 awards here.

The Special Recognition category celebrates those who dedicate extra commitment to raising the profile of the trade, across themes like skills, mental health and social media.

Here’s what the nomination means to Tim in his own words:

Having co-founded and led VIY since its creation as a Community Interest Company in 2015, I’ve seen VIY grow from a first single project in south London to now having helped more than 14,000 young people to learn vocational trade skills whilst renovating over 800 local community places UK-wide, such as youth clubs, community centres, village halls, grassroots sports clubs and public green spaces. I’ve also been lucky enough to share that journey with my fellow co-founder, and now VIY COO, Ed Sellwood.

The young people who take part in VIY projects, all of whom are typically not in employment, education or training or at risk of disengagement, are mentored by experienced tradespeople, just like the thousands who are part of the wonderful On The Tools community. I’ve always felt that these mentors are the rocket fuel behind the VIY model, taking time to work alongside young people and share their skills and experience and inspiring them to consider construction as a rewarding and accessible career pathway.

We’ve grown appreciably since starting out, thanks to a multitude of cross-sector partners and funders, including local authorities, construction companies, homebuilders, sport governing bodies and brands that serve tradespeople everyday like Dulux , Toolstation and Travis Perkins. But it still feels like we’ve only just started and we’re determined to expand our offer to reach and benefit more places and people in need over the coming years.

In the meantime, to be shortlisted alongside other brilliant people creating change in the industry, as well as all the wonderful tradespeople recognised in other categories, is very humbling indeed.

We’ll be rooting for you on the night, Tim!

VIY’s Gemma tells us what Pride means to her

30 May 2023

What does Pride mean to you?

Pride is a time to remember our individual journey. I went to high school under section 28, the law that forbade any “promotion of homosexuality in schools” which meant there was no support for students and bullying was rife. I came out in the year 2000, the summer I left high school and though my family embraced me with open arms, society wasn’t always as accepting.

I remember when I qualified as a teacher in 2010, not being able to be fully open about my sexuality and struggling to find a school which would accept me for what I was. I used to hide myself behind a fake shield of heteronormativity in the professional sphere – despite being out, proud and accepted at home. It made me feel like I could never be myself.

In the 23 years since I have been openly out, further progress towards equality has been made, for example we can marry, we can adopt. But we are aware that these changes have only occurred because of the social action and protesting of the LGBTQ+ individuals that came before us.

Pride to an out LGBTQ+ person represents our time to reflect, to protest, to party and to remember not only the individual journey and collective advances towards acceptance that we have made, but the road where challenges and threats still lay ahead and the work yet to do.

It may seem like a massive party but what the LGBTQ+ community knows is that years of repression can only be counteracted by a large collective outpouring of self expression and freedom.

This is what makes the essence of Pride.

What does Pride mean to you and your life in Manchester as a member of the LGBTQ+ community?

Supporting the wider community is a duty to all LBGTQ+ individuals. Throughout history when people are under threat they come together and support each other from within. It’s something the LGBTQ+ community does naturally, especially in the years since the Aids/HIV crisis in the 80s. The community has faced years of attack, oppression, isolation, fear and death and has largely been left to look after itself. It’s the same now with transgender people particularly under threat and trans youth largely unsupported.

This year the loss of trans teenager Brianna Ghey shook the community further. I was proud to be a part of the community involved in planning the Manchester vigil, which saw over 2,000 people pack into Sackville Gardens in Manchester to remember her and the work we have to do to avoid this happening to young people in the future. There I spoke with parents and teenagers, who were scared for their future. This fear only highlights the inequalities still faced by many LGBTQ+ individuals.

Being a DJ is usually being the focus point for fun, bringing the party. At Pride – we do both. I am not just an agent of fun and freedom to provide dancing and laughter, but being recognisable within the community means I have a social responsibility to support others within that community.

In 2017 I won Village’s Got Talent, which was a fundraiser for the George House Trust. The prize was £500, I donated 50% of it straight back to the charity on stage. As a DJ I have worked fundraisers for: AXM Charity, George House Trust, Terrance Higgins Trust, Stonewall, The Proud Trust, and with the Village Business Owners association also fundraised over £5000 to provide safer sexual health packs in all LGBTQ+ venues.

I’ve even DJ’d a silent disco which raised money for the Russian LGBT foundation at a time when Russian LGBTQ+ people in Chechnya were being murdered and the officials said that “gay people didn’t exist there”, hence we chose a silent disco for a silent protest as LGBTQ+ Russians were being silenced!

It was a pleasure to perform alongside MIRI on the main stage at Manchester pride in 2018, as her guitarist. We performed a re-written version of the Cyndi Lauper hit – “Girls just wanna have fundamental rights.” Pride and protest go hand in hand.

Though Pride starts in June, each city has its own celebration. In Manchester where I live, Pride takes over the August bank holiday weekend. It starts on Friday and day one consists of protests, to alert us to the journey and issues of the future.

On Saturdays we have the Pride march, which is a celebration of solidarity from organisations/workplaces/community groups and a celebration of support in the present. Sunday is largely handed over to more family friendly acts, youth pride and helps us give support to the LGBTQ+ youth of the future.

Then on Monday there is the candlelit vigil, where we gather around the Alan Turing statue in the park next to Canal St, to remember those we have lost over the last year, to either discrimination, to HIV, and cherished members of our Gay Village community, our allies and our pioneers.

As they say in the film Hairspray – “I know where I am going, I know where I’ve been.” This is why we bathe ourselves in glitter, wear rainbows, drink (more than we probably should) and march in protest and solidarity.

Each one of us has a social duty to now do our part, remember those who came before us and knowing that only through visible action can we create visible change and a safer world for the LGBTQ+ people of the future.

Gem x

Visit Stonewall’s website for further information and guidance on supporting the LGBTQ+ community, particularly in the workplace, as well as their useful glossary of inclusive language terms.

VIY Lead Mentor Alan nominated for Role Model Award

12 May 2023

Tradesperson to Mentor

After a tough upbringing in care, Alan began carpentry at 17. Following years at London firm, Ideal Handyman, Alan joined us in 2016 thanks to another of our longest-serving Mentors, Bill.

With us, Alan began mentoring young people who, like him, haven’t had the smoothest start in life; not in education, employment or training (NEET), or at risk of disengaging, needing a different pathway in life. With VIY, by helping young people to learn trade skills whilst renovating community spaces, he discovered a love for teaching and upskilling the next generation in construction, and has been a Lead Mentor for over four years.

Here, Alan shares what VIY means to him seven years later and how he’s become a role model for the construction industry:

“The main reason I switched from working flat out on building sites is the learners. Targets, budgets, timescales still exist, but it’s all about those learners on site. It just works, I’ve helped thousands of young people on well over 100 projects. Mentoring is unique, it’s not just showing them how to use tools. Whether it be life advice, switching from PAYE to self-employment or telling them about trades and the potential future earnings. I don’t think I’d be the real me without VIY and being able to help all these young people – getting them into a better place than when they met us.”

Developing the next generation

One of Alan’s proudest achievements has been developing young tradespeople like Jada, one of the Junior Skills Mentors who joined us through the UK Government’s Kickstart scheme. She’s now been employed by VIY for over a year following Alan’s mentoring.

“A little bit of inspiration is what Jada gives me each time I work with her. Just like when you’re building something, I get that same sense of accomplishment when I see Jada mentoring, furthering her own ambitions to become a leading female in the trade.”

Mentor to Mentor

Just like Alan and Jada, Bill acted as Alan’s own Mentor in the trade, helping him through tough times and into the job he loves so much with VIY. Here Bill talks about his lifelong friendship with Alan:

“As well as all of the young people I’ve volunteered alongside through VIY, I’ve made friends for life. Before VIY, I mentored a guy in my local area, got him into the trade with me away from trouble and we struck up a great working relationship. I was building my own next generation in the trade. When I started working for VIY, I brought him with me and now that man is Alan Dalton, VIY Lead Mentor [pictured above together]. We’re still great friends now, more like father and son.

“Alan is a real example of how we can build the next generation, through volunteering, nurture and mentoring. Whether that be a tradesperson becoming a VIY Trade Mentor or one of the young people we work with, VIY makes a real difference to people’s lives and their community.” 

Alan also starred in Channel 4’s 2018 mini-series ‘Building Britain‘; a four-part documentary where he became a VIY role model.

Fancy being our next role model?

If you’ve been inspired by Alan and would like to find out more about doing #SomethingConstructive with VIY as a Trade Mentor, hit the button below.

Become a VIY Mentor

Celebrating nine projects and 200 accreditations with Toolstation

13 April 2023

We’re celebrating two milestones with one of our key trade partners, Toolstation, whilst working together on the redecoration of TPF Gymnastics Club in Norwich; home to gymnastics, parkour and free-running, the space is also used by a local cubs and scouts group. In total the facilities are currently used by around 200 locals aged between 4-20 years.

The aim of the project was to improve the surroundings for all users and attract new members.  As well as the brightly coloured paint work, we’ve upgraded the male and female toilets by installing glazed tiling, mirrors and a new coat of paint.  

Co-funded as part of our programme with Norwich City Council and match-funded by Sport England, we’ve created a more vibrant space that reflects the energy and positivity happening in the club. 

The colour scheme using bright paintwork including yellow and orange was chosen following feedback and requests from users of the facilities. The paint was donated as part of our trade partnership with Dulux, with the colour scheme being chosen from Toolstation’s Dulux Paint Tinting Service

Chrissie Roe, Founder of the club, has already seen huge interest since the redecoration: “This gym is a vital space for local young people to come to feel safe, be with their friends and do something energetic in a secure environment off the streets. The new modern murals and  our new toilets will massively help to inspire them further, and for us to attract new members with a great first impression when they come to check us out. Since the work has been going on, we’ve received such amazing feedback in person and online, that many new people have been phoning to find out how they can join the club and previous members returning from before the pandemic.”

The logo and mural artwork were created by Kevin Parker, a local community street artist, who also created our gamechanging mural at Kaset Skatepark.

Kevin said: “It’s great to bring an old building like this back to life, give it some vibrance. I’ve loved working with VIY again on another important community building in Norfolk, helping inspire our local young people to do something positive through the power of paint and parkour!”

The project saw over 20 young volunteers between the ages of 16-20 pledge up to a week’s work on the project, with 60% of participants being awarded a City & Guilds Entry Level 3 accreditation in Painting & Decorating. Eight volunteers from the club and local community also helped to prepare the venue before the works began.

Most of the volunteers have joined through the Aspire Progression programme, a re-engagement initiative through City College Norwich to support those whose education may have been disrupted or those looking for an alternative pathway to gaining skills.

Millie, 16, volunteered at TPF Gymnastics, her fourth project with VIY and her fourth City & Guilds accreditation, having already achieved Entry Level 3 in Carpentry, Health & Safety and Brickwork.  After gaining her fourth accreditation here in Painting & Decorating, she’s now taking this further, going on to study art at City College Norwich in September.

“With the first [VIY] project, it was more trial and error, seeing what it’d be like not being in a classroom all the time, instead of college. And then it turns out I really like being outdoorsy, I like learning new things that I hadn’t learned before, and in turn, I’ve used them outside of this as well. I’ve learned a lot from VIY.  This project has been my favourite as I really enjoy painting and decorating, I find it therapeutic. Brickwork was actually a really good one because I didn’t really expect there to be so many different components to laying brick!”

Toolstation plans on co-funding a further four VIY projects throughout the year and in 2023 has set a target to help over 100 young people gain qualifications and consider a career in the trade. 

Forrest Brown, Regional Manager at Toolstation, visited the project and said: “It’s brilliant to witness VIY enriching lives with passionate mentors helping to develop young people not in employment or education. This project had a real community feel and its great to see the engagement with younger people. VIY offers an excellent environment to learn new skills, share stories and get advice.” 

Greg Richardson, Head of Marketing at Toolstation says: “We’re passionate about our partnership with the VIY team, and I’m delighted to continue to support their work with the TPF Gymnastics Club in Norwich.  This project illustrates the power of paint by creating a vibrant place to meet and learn for the local community, and it will also encourage young people to develop confidence and learn practical trade and building skills and earn a qualification.”

Head here to see our previous community projects in partnership with Toolstation

Helping the Midlands Think Active

13 March 2023

Together, we’ll be refurbishing six community spaces across Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire to enable more physical activity to take place and ultimately, help more people in their local area to be more active.

This follows successful VIY projects in the region to date, such as creating an outdoor spectator and events space for Coventrians Rugby Club and refurbishing The Tin Music & Arts Venue, also in Coventry.

Ciara Grogan, VIY Programme Director for Sport, said:

“We’re really excited to be expanding our sports programmes across the Midlands, working with brilliant partners like Think Active. Not only will these refurbished spaces help attract and increase the number of people being active, but they will have enabled young people from the local area to boost their skills and confidence to take a positive next step towards their future.”

Lijana Kaziow, Partnership Manager from Think Active, said:

“It’s great to partner with VIY in supporting young people across Coventry and Warwickshire to attain City and Guilds qualifications, whilst giving local community spaces much needed TLC. Be it a face lift through brightening a room with a new coat of paint, or upgrading facilities to make them more appealing and welcoming to the local community, we’re excited to see the impact of this on the usage of the facilities, the community and how we can all come to volunteer and work together to enhance community hubs.”

Anne-Marie Corbett, Centre Manager for Canley Community Centre, the first project to benefit from this partnership, told us how much the works mean to them:

“We’re so grateful for the refresh VIY and nine local volunteers have given to the centre. As a charitable organisation ourselves, the centre hasn’t been painted in 10 years due to slim resourcing and funds. In order to be able to best serve our community, through our food bank, local youth groups tackling knife crime and soon, local sports activities like yoga, dodgeball and fitness classes, we need to be looking our best to attract more people to use the centre and our services, whilst feeling comfortable to be in a bright, welcoming space, when they’re here. This full redecoration of the centre will do just that.”

As well as funding from Think Active, these projects will be supported with match-funding from Sport England, plus material donations from VIY Trade Partners Dulux (whose support also includes four volunteers on this project), GAP Tool Hire and Travis Perkins.

Vouch-For-A-Friend: £10 Amazon voucher

26 August 2022

Your questions answered: Vouch-For-A-Friend

What’s Vouch-For-A-Friend?

Young people tell us all the time that they would recommend a VIY project or that they know someone who would enjoy the experience too. To say thank you, we are rewarding the young person who successfully recommends a friend onto a VIY project (a friend who turns up and  participates on a VIY project too) with a £10 thank you voucher.

What is the voucher for?
The eligible young person who has successfully recommended VIY to a friend will receive a £10 Amazon voucher. You can find further details and terms & conditions of the voucher here. This incentive is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by Amazon.

Who is eligible to participate and receive a voucher?

As a young person, you can participate in a VIY project if you are:

  • 14-24 (16-24 in some areas)
  • not in education, employment or training
  • excluded/at risk of disengaging in current work/training setting
  • in Alternative Provision
  • with a disability or special educational needs
  • other criteria can apply – please discuss with your VIY Youth Engagement Co-ordinator

Both young people (including the friend being recommended) must meet this criteria to volunteer on VIY projects and for the original young person to receive their voucher. The young people can come from the same organisation but do not have to be volunteering with VIY on the same days to receive the voucher.

Both young people must turn up on time for at least three days of a VIY project that they have registered for, with no unseen absences or delays.

The chosen friend must be referred, or refer themselves to VIY, by email by using this link or by mentioning the name of the person who recommended VIY during their email or telephone registration.

How do I receive the voucher?
The voucher will be sent to the email address associated with your registration with VIY – this may be your own, a family member’s email address, youth organisation, school or college so please check who is organising your place on a VIY project to ensure you receive your voucher.

When do I receive the voucher? 
You will receive the voucher within 14 days following the referred friend completing three days on a project.

Can I only get one voucher, for one friend?
No, a young person can receive a voucher for up to three friends. So if you refer three friends who successfully turn up to a project, you get three vouchers!

What is the timeframe within which I have to refer a friend to be eligible for a voucher?
The friend must successfully participate in the same project as the young person referring the friend.

VIY retains the right to amend these terms and conditions or remove this incentive at any time.

Please contact if you have any unanswered questions ahead of recommending and ‘vouching for a friend’ with VIY.

VIY shares Impact Report 2021-22

31 May 2022

Enabling volunteering to create social change

We’re passionate about the impact of volunteering to create real social change. It’s part of our three year vision to inspire more people to volunteer for the first time and/or more often in their communities – with the associated health and wellbeing benefits volunteering can bring.

  • from helping our young people to upskill and consider construction as an engaging career pathway
  • to local tradespeople volunteering their skills, experience and knowledge
  • to our partners giving back as volunteers on site
  • to our own people volunteering in their personal lives
  • all to help build better places and spaces for communities to thrive

In the past year we’ve celebrated 10 Years of VIY, awarded our 5000th City & Guilds accreditation, expanded our team by 25%, which is now providing the expertise to help us to deliver impact for our young people and communities on a scale never seen before for VIY. Retaining a quality experience and expanding the horizons of the young people we support at the same time.

Tim Reading, CEO of VIY, said:

“The 2021-22 operating year for VIY has been a story of recommencing full delivery and bouncing back after a tough period of Covid lockdowns and restrictions. Our model has felt more relevant than ever with so many young people having been adversely affected by Covid and so many essential community facilities and venues struggling to survive.

So the past 12 months have also been a story of positive impact, as told by this report, for young people at risk and for local communities in need – and all fuelled by volunteering and a brilliant ‘team sheet’ of cross-sector partners and funders.”

We look forward to working with all of our funders, partners and organisations through 2022-23 and beyond. We love doing #SomethingConstructive with you all and long may we continue to positively impact the lives of young people and local communities together. Thank you for your continued support!

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