VIY clubhouse renovation with Northampton Saints

2 November 2022

We’ve been joined throughout the works by Northampton Saints Foundation students, who are taking part in the Foundation’s Hitz and Aspire programmes, as well as local college students on construction courses or disengaged from mainstream education. They’ve been painting and decorating the changing rooms and adding individual changing slots at the club to make them more attractive for current and new players, resulting in 19 Entry Level 3 City & Guilds accreditations gained by the young volunteers in Painting & Decorating and Carpentry.

They were lucky to be joined by current Saints player, James Grayson, as well as Saints legend, Tom Wood, both Foundation ambassadors, who both helped the students with some painting at the venue.

Connor Fleming, Head of Northampton Saints Community said: “The clubhouse Renovation Competition is an excellent example of our partnership in action, helping to support our local clubs and communities as well as supporting activity across the grassroots level. Projects like this help make rugby more accessible for everyone, using the power of sport to positively impact a wide range of groups and individuals.

Tom Wood added: “It’s great to be able to do some practical activities with the young people out of the classroom, and particularly in the surroundings of a local rugby club.

“I have been lucky in that rugby has given me a great deal, so getting involved in projects like this one give me the opportunity to give something back, not just to the students, but also the wider community.”

Ed Sellwood, our COO and co-founder of VIY, said:

“We’ve completed over 700 community projects since 2011, many of which have been improving grassroots sports clubs and facilities for the benefit of the local community and all helping boost the work-readiness of the young people who volunteer with us. Collaborating with cross-sector partners, from sports to construction like the Saints and Toolstation, help us all do more to build better communities and help improve more young lives together.”

Greg Richardson, Head of Marketing at Toolstation added: “We’re really happy to have supported the VIY team and Long Buckby with the renovation of their facilities. This is a project that will help young people learn practical trade and building skills and earn a qualification. The construction sector is facing a shortage of workers and so we hope that this initiative will inspire more young people to consider entering the trades.”

The project is due to be completed at the start of November with the updated facilities being put into use for the first time at Long Buckby RFC’s next home fixture!

Meet Elise, our young volunteer painting her future with us on this project

VIY’s inspiring volunteers: Bill Langwith

26 October 2022

In conversation with Bill ‘Total Legend’ Langwith.

First volunteering with VIY back in 2015 at the Eric Allen Community House in partnership with Haringey Council in North London, Bill helped to renovate this disused community centre and mentored local residents, loving the experience of helping young people to take their minds off challenging issues through learning new skills. 

Bill recently returned to mentor young volunteers at Woodford Rugby Club in Essex

 

What do you enjoy the most about mentoring with VIY?

“I really love the job, it gives me full satisfaction and purpose. A highlight was hearing a young person say it was the ‘best day of my life’. It’s all worthwhile to help young people have those days.”

 

How has VIY changed your life?

“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’s Head 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.” 

Bill catching up recently with VIY family Neil, Alan and Sue

 

Following that first taste of VIY, Bill has mentored on over 20 projects, earning the nickname ‘Total Legend’ after he went above and beyond to fix the aircon during a project at The Macbeth pub in Hackney, part of the Good Growth Fund through the Greater London Authority. Stories like these, along with his venerable age of 80, not to mention his positive can-do attitude, mean that Bill is firmly in the ‘VIY Hall of Fame’. 

 

Why do you believe in VIY? 

“VIY is not just a job, it’s a purpose. Yes, you get job satisfaction from doing a job well, but with VIY you can really help a young person in their life. 

“My first project was a definite eye opener for me into the lives of young people growing up in London today. VIY can only do good for young people and the mentors teaching them. I’m glad I’ve been able to pass on a bit of what I know to the young people I’ve worked with, and I hope it plays at least a small part in them securing a job in the future.

“The best moment is when the young people have had behavioural or mental health problems in the past, and we can get them really interested in learning new skills. VIY is something special.”

 

Why is volunteering important to you? 

I’ve volunteered at my local church for over 12 years, alongside working for VIY; sorting leaky taps, refreshing benches (keeping those woodwork skills alive!), the odd jobs they need someone to do. Volunteering still keeps me active – I’m no couch potato and like to keep busy to keep active, so I like helping out and feeling like I’m still making a difference to those around me.” 

Bill mentoring young volunteers

Creating legacy in Liverpool with Persimmon

13 October 2022

Ahead of The 2022 World Gymnastics Championships, we’re working with Persimmon Homes and Liverpool City Council’s Legacy programme to support the refurbishment of local sports facilities, at the same time as working with local young people at risk of disengagement to gain experience and qualifications in the construction trades.

New programme

For the first project in our new programme, we refurbished The Liverpool Gymnastics Club, the grassroots facility that supported Beth Tweddle as she started her career, one of Britain’s most successful gymnasts, with an Olympic Bronze Medal, three World titles, five European titles and seven British titles to her name.

We were also joined at the project by Mayor for the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, a former bricklayer himself. He enjoyed meeting Kaitlyn, Demi, Lee and Liam, some of our young VIY volunteers from the project from Employability Solutions Merseyside, who support young people with an alternative pathway to education and training.

VIY has welcomed 25 young people from Employability Solutions Merseyside, Prudentia Education and Kings Liverpool Academy Liverpool who’ve volunteered to renovate the club, painting the walls in line with the club colours and building new storage and a reception area, with10 City and Guilds Entry Level 3 accreditations gained in painting and decorating.

Persimmon, who we worked with in 2021 at Flo Skatepark in Nottingham, have added to the VIY volunteer experience offering site visits to their Edinburgh campus, Anfield, a number of staff volunteering alongside the young people and are now considering a number of apprenticeship opportunities for our VIY volunteers. Other partners include match-funding from Sport England, Dulux, who have donated all of the paint for the club’s refurbishment, as well as the local Travis Perkins branch.

This new programme marks a return to Merseyside for Team VIY, following previous projects refurbishing Mersey Bowmen Tennis Club and Portico Vine Rugby League Club in St Helens.

Keep in touch with our full pipeline of work across the UK and how to get involved here

Travis Perkins supports over 100 projects with VIY

9 August 2022

The refurbishment of Charlton Park Rugby Club was the 100th project of the partnership, in which Travis Perkins has supported us with way more than materials; including colleague volunteer time, work-readiness training and progression pathways for VIY young learners, since March 2020.

17 local young people volunteered across this month-long project, referred by organisations including the Construction Youth Trust, a charity which also helps inspire young people to build better futures in the construction industry, the Amber Foundation, who support young people at risk of homelessness, and the local Royal Greenwich Council.

The project saw the renovation of female facilities at the club, the creation of an outdoor seating area and the repainting of the bar; improvements aimed to make the club more hospitable to serve the local community, who currently use the space as a local polling station and blood donor centre, and to support their financial resilience.

By donating materials and working locally with the VIY team, Travis Perkins is able to strengthen local relationships, demonstrate positive social value, and do what matters for the community. The partnership contributes to at least five of Travis Perkins 12 commitments within its approach to sustainability, Building for Better, including diversity and inclusion, people development, charity and community, colleague voice and engagement and safety and wellbeing.

Previous projects include Mansfield’s West Nottinghamshire College and providing timber for two of our indoor skatepark refurbishments.

Steve Baldwin, Regional Director for Travis Perkins says: “We are delighted to have been able to support VIY again on their project at Charlton. The work that VIY does in encouraging young people to build up their confidence and learn practical skills is so important and fits well with our values as a business around caring, being the best and working together. We’re committed to investing in and developing the next generation workforce in the construction industry, and VIY provides a valuable link to young people looking at beginning a career within this sector.”

This is in addition to our six projects now completed with Toolstation, also part of Travis Perkins plc.

We can’t wait to see what’s to come as we continue our partnership across the Group.

VIY confirmed as Gen22 Assignment Provider

19 May 2022

We’re delighted to have been confirmed as an Assignment Provider with the Gen22 programme, the programme providing employability boosting opportunities to young people in the region supported by the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The Gen22 programme aims to support those aged 16-24 who might otherwise struggle to access the many opportunities arising from the Games, including those who lack confidence, those who are young carers, young parents or have a criminal record. As an Assignment Provider, VIY will provide 50 employability boosting opportunities for young people from the West Midlands on three community projects, starting at Telford Hornets Rugby Club this month, where we’ll be transforming the club’s changing rooms and building a fence to prevent motorcycle access onto the pitch from a nearby public path.

Interested in taking part as a young person (aged 16-24) or as an opportunity for young people you work with to help build the next generation of sporting stars? We’d love to hear from you, please get in touch via outreach@teamviy.com.

This is a continuation of our work across the West Midlands, one of our hub regions, where we’ve completed over 94 projects during our first decade as an organisation, including Hall Green Boxing Club in 2013 (pictured above!) and Shard End Community Centre in 2017 in Birmingham, and most recently, regenerating Coventrians Rugby Club and The Tin Music & Arts Venue, both in Coventry, in 2021. More exciting programmes in the region are to be announced in coming months.

Bethan Stimpson, Gen22 Programme Lead, said:

“I’m really pleased to be adding Volunteer it Yourself (VIY) to our network of Gen22 Assignment Providers. VIY is bringing a unique set of opportunities to the project; providing a chance for some of our region’s youth to experience trade based social action in their local communities. It is my hope that many of the participants will use this experience to build skills that will help them take their next step into long term sustainable employment.”

Tim Reading, CEO of VIY, said:

“The West Midlands has become one of the core regional hubs of activity for VIY throughout our first ten years, where we’ve helped over 1,500 young people gain trade and employability skills by volunteering on renovation projects to benefit their own communities. We’re delighted to be aligning our work with the Gen22 programme, providing opportunities for those in the youngest city in Europe and the surrounding areas who stand to benefit from an exciting summer and legacy beyond the Games in Birmingham.”

 

Over 100 young people upskilled thanks to Toolstation

30 April 2022

 

As one of Britain’s fastest growing suppliers of tools, accessories and building supplies, we began working with Toolstation in 2021. This expanded our partnership across the Travis Perkins Group, working together to help build a future pipeline of talent in the construction industry, and helping to delivery on the Group’s purpose to build better communities and enrich lives.

Toolstation help to fund young people’s participation on our projects through funding for mentoring and their accreditations, whilst also donating tools, materials and colleagues volunteering on our projects.

Here’s a round-up of our first year with them.

Project #1: Coventrians Rugby Club, Coventry

We kicked off with 28 young people gaining 26 Entry Level 3 City & Guilds accreditations between them over three weeks at the Coventrians Rugby Club project. Work centred on building a new outdoor social and activity space, to enable the club to host more events to boost their own income and refurbish the changing facilities. See this project in action here.

Group of young volunteers from Hereward College stand in front of a brown wooden pagoda they helped to create holding up certificates

Project #2: YMCA Dickerage, New Malden

We then headed down to New Malden, where Toolstation had recently opened a new store. Wishing to connect with the local community, we transformed the local YMCA Youth Centre in Dickerage.

Daniel Slocombe, Centre Manager for YMCA Dickerage, said: “This is the most excited I’ve been since working here – the refurbishment will make a huge difference to young people and their lives… Community is so important and after COVID-19, the centre is helping bring everybody together… It is more multicultural and multi-generational than ever before.“

Project #3: Southbrook Community Centre, Daventry

Third time lucky and indeed we were, as we were joined by Northampton Saints rugby players Alex Waller and Tom Wood, friends of Toolstation who are sponsors of the club. They came down to help put the finishing touches to our project at Southbrook Community Centre, on their Northamptonshire doorstep in Daventry, building the tables for the community cafe. More on this project in Northants Live.

Project #4: Middleton Select Amateur Boxing Club, Manchester

We then headed north to renovate the changing rooms at Middleton Select Amateur Boxing Club in Manchester, with the help of some of the young local boxers too! Head Coach Martyn Lynch has been overwhelmed by the help and results of the work completed:

“This is fantastic what Zamir and Simon and all the young volunteers are doing for our Middleton Select Boxing Club… all of us at our club cannot thank you all enough for everything, this means the absolute world to me and all our kids and some of them have helped out which is great.” 

Project #5: Wembdon Village Hall, Bridgwater

This time we headed down to Toolstation territory near their HQ in Bridgwater, Somerset, and began work on a large project spanning six months at Wembdon Village Hall. Over 103 days, the new youth space was completed following the erection of new walls, installation of storage, laying of underfloor flooring, plastering of walls, and decorating. More on this project in the Bridgwater Mercury.

Greg Richardson, Head of Marketing for Toolstation, champions VIY and volunteered at Wembdon: “We are really proud to support the Volunteer It Yourself programme and to help young people learn practical trade and building skills and earn a qualification. The construction sector is facing a shortage of workers and we hope that this initiative will inspire more young people to consider entering the trades.”

Another volunteer from The Amber Foundation in Devon, Vanessa-Mae Watson, became our 500th volunteer with Sport England here too.

We look forward to working with Toolstation and the wider Travis Perkins Group on more projects throughout 2022 – stay tuned!

Making our mark in Norfolk – UK Community Renewal Fund

28 April 2022

What we’ve done so far

After getting off to a flying start at The Phoenix Centre in Norwich, we’ve since been hard at work at Cromer Artspace, contributing to the long-awaited, ongoing restoration of this treasured seafront art deco space refreshing the interior paintwork and adding toilet and kitchen facilities.

We then headed to Kingfisher Amateur Boxing Club in Great Yarmouth where we’ve been refreshing the interior of the gym floor, including a snazzy new mural of their logo, as well as a new kit storage and reception area at this high impact community club. We’ve had 14 young people join us from our long-time youth partner, Catch-22, who deliver public services that build resilience and aspiration in people and communities, and what an impact they’ve had on the club. 

One young volunteer from Great Yarmouth, Billy, aged 24, who was referred through the DWP, really enjoyed the experience and has now also joined another VIY project at East Norfolk Sixth Form College:

“I enjoyed the course very much, I was feeling anxious at first but the trainers (our Trade Mentors and team) were very understanding and made me feel really comfortable. It’s kept me busy and helped me build my confidence.”

Andrew Smith, Club Manager at Kingfisher also told us:

“Kingfisher are very happy and thankful for the work carried out by Team VIY. Jasper and his team did a great job with our gym and the mural at the gym came out superb. The gym now has a more professional look with the reception area also. Many thanks to all for the great work carried out.”

We’ve worked with some ace young people across the county so far, from the likes of longstanding VIY youth partner, Catch-22, Aspire Project at City College Norwich and the local DWP, as well as many others. Many have achieved Entry Level 3 City & Guilds Accreditations which can help them take the next step in their future.

Boxing clubs: round two

We’ve knocked it out of the park at Norwich Lads Amateur Boxing Club, a historic club in the area established in 1918, as a space for promising young boxers to train and reach their potential. There, we’ve improved facilities and accessibility for a wider demographic, including more young female boxers. BBC Radio Norfolk’s The Social: the show for young people in Norfolk even came down down to see us and featured some of our young volunteers on their show (skip to 2:08:40 to hear us)!

Young refugees, pictured in blue overalls, supported onto the VIY project by City College Norwich, meet Lord Mayor of Norwich, Dr Kevin Maguire (centre) and Chairman of Norwich Lads Amateur Boxing Club, Colin Bates (left)

We’ve also completed College Community Hub Project at East Norfolk Sixth Form College, where we’ve refurbished the indoors and garden areas to improve facilities and make this a multi-functional space for use by the wider community. 

What we’re doing now and what’s coming up!

Next up we’ll be at Marlpit Community Garden in Norwich, creating a wellbeing garden and facilities with the Sustainable Living Initiative, before heading onto Alive West Norfolk Kaset Skatepark, our third ever skatepark project, where we’re building new skateboarding training areas and sprucing up their community cafe area with the help of Dulux.

Click here to keep up to date with the next projects coming up in Norfolk and our full pipeline of projects elsewhere across the country.

*For more information on the UK Community Renewal Fund, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-community-renewal-fund- prospectus

Regenerating across Nottinghamshire – UK Community Renewal Fund

28 April 2022

What we’ve been up to so far

Following our vibrant start at The Pythian Club with Nottingham City Council, we’ve since set to work on the next round of 23 community projects we’re completing across the county. 

Since February, we’ve so far worked on five projects across four priority areas with Nottinghamshire County Council, regenerating spaces including:

  • Vibrant Warsop Methodist Church
  • Bassetlaw Citizens Advice
  • Newark Amateur Boxing Club
  • The Cuckney Club

Mansfield is one such priority area which includes our fifth project, The Old Library; a Grade II listed building used by the Inspire Youth Arts team for community arts activities, receiving a makeover to its interior and community cafe, to celebrate its 25th anniversary and revitalise the venue ahead of a busy summer of arts activity and performance.

15 young people, including painting & decorating students from the Mansfield campus of Vision West Nottinghamshire College and young people referred through Futures For You and the Inspire programme, have been gaining work experience through VIY whilst transforming the iconic building in their hometown. Executive Mayor of Mansfield, Andy Abrahams, recently paid a visit to the venue and he said:

“As a former teacher, I know that practical work experience is an invaluable part of learning. Working alongside local tradespeople will not only help develop their skills, but improve their confidence and inspire them to reach their full potential – hopefully leading to good quality employment. We want as many of our district’s young people as possible to take advantage of free opportunities like this.

“I’m so pleased that community assets in Mansfield are also benefiting from this project – it really is a win-win for all involved.”

One of our key Trade Partners, Travis Perkins, also began supporting our young people with work-readiness training, helping explore their career aspirations and how they can go about achieving them, with their first two sessions delivered at this project thanks to volunteers from their Apprenticeship & Kickstart teams.

Hear it straight from our young volunteers here, including Daniel, who heard about the opportunity for free work experience locally, whose ambition is to secure an apprenticeship in joinery, who shared the impact of this training and the project on them in this video.

Read about our work in the Mansfield Chad.

What we’re doing now and what’s coming up!

Elsewhere in partnership with Nottingham City Council, we’ve been working at Cavaliers & Carrington Cricket Club to renovate the outdoor seating areas (with great weather for it!) to attract a wider audience from the local, diverse communities, complete with renovated catering facilities to serve this audience and support the club financially.

At Clifton Boxing Club, where we are revitalising the changing rooms, facilities and exterior cladding for this local high impact community boxing club, we held our first ‘Taster Day’, welcoming partners from local youth organisations Groundwork and Futures For You, who have also referred young people onto our projects so far in the region, to see first hand what the VIY experience looks like, ahead of sharing the opportunity with young people they work with. 

Groundwork also successfully signed up four out of six eligible young people to progress from VIY onto their Towards Work programme, working to support with the first vital steps towards gaining employment through a personalised service and support to overcome any barriers they may face. A great step for our young volunteers!

 

We’re then going full green fingers throughout May, heading outdoors to create accessible, garden spaces at Vale View Summerhouse for older residents and at schools including West Nottinghamshire College, Mansfield and Elizabethan Academy, Retford.

Click here to keep up to date with these next projects coming up across Nottinghamshire and our full pipeline of projects elsewhere across the country.

 

* For more information on the UK Community Renewal Fund, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-community-renewal-fund- prospectus

VIY Review Launch: Our First Ten Years

8 December 2021

We’re delighted to be marking 10 years of Volunteer It Yourself with the release of a review celebrating our first decade as an organisation – VIY: Our First Ten Years. This coincides with another milestone, awarding our 5,000th City & Guilds Entry Level 3 construction skills accreditation to the young people who volunteer with us.

Since 2011 (and our first project at John Corfield Community Centre, Streatham, pictured above), we have worked with over 12,000 young people, principally those disengaged or excluded from mainstream education and training, at risk of disengagement, and/or unemployed, with the aim of upskilling and supporting them to progress back into the workforce, education or training.

At the same time, we have delivered over 600 regeneration projects to transform, and in many cases save and secure, valued community buildings and facilities. In the process, we have also mobilised over 1,000 local professional tradespeople as inspirational trade skills mentors for young people, whilst also underpinning the delivery of the works on each project.

With exciting plans in the pipeline, including the news of our funding through the UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund across three local councils, we’re ready and raring to do even more in 2022 and beyond.

Read our 10 Year Review here

VIY wins Community Renewal Funding

11 November 2021

We are delighted to announce we have received significant funding to deliver multiple local community projects in partnership with three local authorities (Nottingham, Nottinghamshire and Norfolk), thanks to the UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund.

The £220million national fund is designed to help pilot programmes and new approaches in local communities, to invest in people and boost skills. This is exactly what we do day in, day out, so we couldn’t be better placed to deliver this for these local communities.

 

Who we’ll be working with

We’re thrilled to be chosen as one of four projects working with Nottinghamshire County Council across communities in Bassetlaw, Mansfield & Newark & Sherwood, aiming to help more local people back into work and to support businesses following the pandemic.

For Nottingham City Council, we’re again one of four projects improving skills, boosting employment and helping businesses to grow across the city.

Finally, we’ll be working across Norfolk County Council as one of 14 projects across Great Yarmouth, Kings Lynn & West Norfolk, North Norfolk & Norwich, focused on building skills and fostering innovation.

How we’ll be supporting young people

Across all of our projects with the Community Renewal Fund, we’ll be supporting over 1000 young people at risk of marginalisation who’ll be volunteering with local trade mentors, learning and applying vocational construction skills whilst breathing life back into buildings at the heart of communities in Nottingham/Nottinghamshire and Norfolk.

As an official City & Guilds skills centre, whilst volunteering on our projects our young volunteers will also be given the opportunity to earn City & Guilds trade skill accreditations with us. They’ll then receive dedicated support to help them to progress into further education, training or employment.

Tim Reading, our CEO, commented: “We’re delighted to see young people, skills and employability outcomes recognised across this fund for all three councils, three things at the heart of our VIY mission, and we’re delighted to be one of many projects delivering further on these priorities, working directly with young people and communities in these local communities.”

We’re incredibly grateful to our growing team who have helped us reach this point, and who are continuing to work tirelessly to make this happen.

Fancy volunteering with us? If you are or know of an experienced tradesperson with skills and knowledge to pass on to the next generation in one of these areas, please contact us here.

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