Aaja Music

12 January 2023

Aaja Music is a grassroots music organisation founded by Sam and Owen, two local music business owners from the local Deptford area; incorporating a record label, radio station, music event space. They were forced out of their pre-Covid home, into their temporary home during and since Covid at the nearby Snake Pit – an outdoor venue. Now they’re on a mission to transform this venue on Deptford High Street, which has been empty for 10 years, having been the local Marks & Spencer (the jewellery counter still remains!), car park and underground club. Step in our first project in partnership with Barclaycard Entertainment, doing #SomethingConstructive together for grassroots music, arts and culture.

The project:

  • First up was major clearance and site prep to make the space accessible including asbestos removal, temporary electrics/lighting (thanks to GAP Tool Hire), prepping a temporary toilet area, floor levelling and an industrial clean
  • Construction of two stud walls around the new entrance, to create a sound barrier for neighbours
  • Construction of the walls and doorway between the two larger event spaces
  • Initial construction of the hallway which separates the main music space from the other areas and creation of the live radio studio

The young people: 10 local young volunteers, from the Construction Youth Trust, Lewisham College, St Giles’ Trust and Royal Greenwich Council

The impact:

  • This project kickstarts a wider programme of works to create Aaja’s new long-term home on Deptford High Street, with a 10 year lease
  • Hands-on work experience for 10 young people looking to get into construction, helping to develop a space they may use on their doorstep
  • Expanding the organisation into two venues: the High Street as their indoor home and radio station, The Snake Pit as their live event & market space

Accreditations gained: 9 City & Guilds accreditations gained in Carpentry

See the impact of the project in our film below.

Amber Foundation Trowbridge

21 September 2022

One of our principal Trade Partners, Dulux, sponsors Channel 4’s revamp of the popular show, Changing Rooms. They wanted to make sure the leftover paint from the show was put to good use and not wasted. Step in one of our longest-serving youth partners, the Amber Foundation, and their residence in Trowbridge, Wiltshire – a wonderful organisation who help young people at risk of homelessness build better, brighter futures – and the third Amber residence we’ve helped to improve since 2021.

The project:

Over 13 days in August and September, VIY teamed up with the young people living at Amber Trowbridge to transform some of their living and learning spaces, including their gym, music rooms and outdoor buildings – plain storage spaces lacking inspiration for the young people improving their lives through Amber there.

Come September, it was all hands on deck as Team VIY were joined by a whopping 26 volunteers from our partners including: the Amber staff team, including their CEO Paul Rosam, colleagues from Dulux and those who supported the Channel 4 Changing Rooms production, who mentored and worked alongside the fab young people from Amber.

We were delighted to have Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director for Dulux, help us pre-project to design the colourways for two interiors and all of the outdoor exteriors, as well as her fair painting hand on site too.

The young people: 18 young people who call Amber Foundation Trowbridge their home

The impact:

  • Outdoor learning and wellbeing spaces transformed with the creation of an office for their on-site psychotherapist and a group wellbeing room
  • Transformation of their gym and music rooms, including equipment donations from our Lead Mentor Andy and PM Graham
  • Baby grand piano decorated with bespoke ‘splatter’ design using leftovers of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s favourite bold hues in Dulux’s quick dry gloss!
  • Bespoke paint design from Dulux Creative Director Marianne Shillingford to inspire calm and positive wellbeing, framing the rooms with blissful blues and greys, with the calming, natural tones showcased on the outside
  • Clearer, brighter, bolder spaces to inspire positive wellbeing, learning and growing in the young people at Amber, and for their on-site teams too

Match-funded by Sport England.

Accreditations gained: 17 Entry Level 3 City & Guilds accreditations gained in Painting & Decorating, Carpentry and Health & Safety

See how the project helped Amber’s young people here

Bury Cricket Club

7 April 2019

Bury Cricket Club is a long-established and prominent sports club in the local area, which is one of the 20% most deprived wards in the UK. The club applied to VIY for help to construct perimeter picket fencing to improve the appearance and security of the grounds and also, at the same time, to engage more potential female members at the club.

Over the course of two project phases, 21 young female volunteers were involved: 14 referred by Lancashire County Women’s Cricket Regional Development Centre and seven from Bury College. Most of the participants were first-time volunteers and all of the college students were new to cricket. Working together with VIY trade skills mentors, all of the young volunteers had the opportunity to try their hands at a mix of jobs, covering groundwork and fence-building, and 14 of the participants successfully achieved an Entry Level 3 City & Guilds Carpentry Skills Accreditation in the process.

The club was really pleased with the results of the project and the enthusiasm and positivity that the young people brought to the club. Matthew Metcalfe, chairman at Bury Cricket Club, said the following: “Imran, the VIY Lead Mentor, and his team did a great job in enthusing the young volunteers and the very positive working relationship between the mentors and the volunteers was clear to see. It’s easy to sometimes be jaded about young people and their willingness to involve themselves in community activities, but this project was a great reminder that there are thousands of young people who, if the right button can be pressed at the right time, will metaphorically move mountains for you. The girls did a great job and hopefully we can continue to involve them with the club.”

Cafe INDIEpendent

5 February 2018

Cafe INDIEpendent is a live music venue, community cafe and social enterprise on Scunthorpe high street, and was introduced to VIY by Music Venue Trust, a charity that acts to protect, secure and improve grassroots music venues at risk across the UK. The focus of the VIY project was to help refurbish the downstairs performance and bar area, involving an all female VIY team of mentors and volunteers, including construction students from Doncaster College.

The project was also visited and filmed by Guy Martin and Channel 4 for Guy’s Building Britain series of short films on All 4 that highlight the UK’s national shortage of building and construction skills.

Cardiff Pupil Referral Units

16 August 2023

Working in partnership with Cardiff Council and construction contractor Centregreat, we’ve played a part in the Cardiff Commitment to help boost ambition and skills in young people across three Pupil Referral Units and Special Schools, according to the needs and opportunities within industries, like construction, on their doorstep in Wales.

Their ambition is to provide sustained work experience opportunities and engagement with employers, over and above ad hoc visits and interactions. We delivered short workshops at three schools, Greenhill School, Gabalfa Community School and Bryn y Deryn and the Carnegie Centre, supporting students who may have struggled in mainstream education through behaviour, special educational needs and/or experienced trauma in their lives.

15+ students were supported by a VIY Lead Mentor to learn carpentry skills, in order to build wooden furniture to improve their own school environment, and boost their learning/aspirations outside of mainstream education.

All materials were donated by Travis Perkins Cardiff South.

One student said:

“I initially thought today was going to be stupid and a waste of my time. Now I’ve made the bench I’m thinking it was 100% worth my time. I have actually learnt something new. Today has given me purpose and I’ve socialised too.”

Others told us:

“I really enjoyed it. Learn to cut the wood was the best part and I got better at it”, “I really liked putting all the bits together with the screwdriver and seeing it turn into a proper thing” and “I would like to do more of this kind of stuff.”

Ian Priday, Teacher at Bryn y Deryn and the Carnegie Centre, Cardiff, said:

“Alan was first rate – absolutely excellent with the learners, and they all appreciated his efforts and patience – there were lots of ‘thank yous’ at the end of the day, which isn’t always the case!!”

See what this hands-on work experience means to Greenhill School

Chapel-en-le-Frith High School

15 August 2018

Chapel-en-le-Frith School is one of 100 secondary schools across England that took part in VIY’s Mentoring Programme, supported by The Careers & Enterprise Company, since 2017.

The Mentoring Programme is targeted at students in Years 8-11 and designed to develop early awareness of the building and construction sector as a relevant and rewarding career pathway. The programme typically involved three interactions for students over one term with their VIY Mentors: two introductory skills workshops and then an on-site building project, identified/nominated by the students.

At Chapel-en-le-Frith, 34 students were selected by their teachers to participate, and for their project the students decided to renovate the school allotment. This included the building of new raised beds/planters and potting benches, and improving wheelchair access. Over two days each student completed 12 Guided Learning Hours working with their Mentors, successfully achieving an Entry Level 3 City & Guilds carpentry accreditation in the process.

Pre and post evaluation revealed that the students, in addition to developing new vocational trade skills, had also increased their confidence levels across seven key softer employability skills over the course of the programme, including teamwork and expressing their ideas and opinions.

Cheetham Hill Sports Club

17 November 2022

After the Lionesses semi-final win in 2022’s monumental Women’s Euros campaign, Ian Wright publicly urged for the tournament to create a lasting legacy for women’s football: ‘If there’s no legacy after this, then what are we doing? Girls should be able to play [football].’ 

The project:

Our work at Cheetham Hill Sports Club brings this legacy to life, with the help of the Barclays Community Football Fund and match-funding from Sport England. Based in Greater Manchester, the club, with inclusivity at its heart, aims to promote, develop, and facilitate sports at all ages and levels within the wider community. Though the club currently have three active female football teams, prior to this project, the site had no dedicated female changing facilities. 

The young people: 16 young volunteers from organisations including Timeout Homes, Active Tameside, Navigators and Elms Bank College

The impact:

  • Enabled a large programme of works to kickstart at the club, to have a huge impact on the experience for women and girls across all of the sports at the club
  • We created stud walls to separate current changing and shower facilities to create safe, separate female and disabled facilities to match the male amenities, then plasterboarded and plastered 
  • Cabinets for sink bases to be mounted on to were built, as well as painting and decorating the corridor and lobby area
  • We also worked with local artist, Myro Doodles, to transform their flaking pitch-side storage container into a beautiful bespoke mural with the help of our young people and Dulux’s Metalshield paint – to inspire conversations and the next generation, on the tools and on the pitch
  • These facilities will accommodate the club’s growing female sports teams, giving approximately 50 girls a safe space to change and a deeper sense of belonging to their local football club and community
  • The programme of works to the changing rooms continues under the leadership of the club committee, a dedicated group of local volunteers supporting the club. Works will include lowering the roof and insulating the building, electrics and fitting the new disabled and female shower and toilet facilities
  • Hear what this project has meant to Chris Lines, Chair of Cheetham Hill, and check out this double page spread in The Telegraph

Accreditations gained: 11 City & Guilds Entry Level 3 in Carpentry and Health & Safety


Community Skill Share Shop

17 November 2022

Once a bakery on the edge of a large housing estate in Norwich, ‘The Shop’ had been vacant for a number of years. Despite some recent use as a pop-up shop, the space was not fit for public use. Following consultation with the local community, the ambition was to transform it into a community skill share hub.

The project: We’ve made this space fit for purpose by creating fitted storage and lockable cupboards, shelving, new flooring and adding an accessible ramp.

The young people: 19 young volunteers from City College Norwich’s Aspire programme, aimed at re-engaging young people at risk of disengaging with mainstream education completed 12+ hours each on the project

The impact:

  • Community group ‘The Common Lot’ has occupied the space since VIY completed the refurbishment and are looking to manage the space on a more permanent basis as a skill share space for the community, to deliver employability support, reduce isolation and promote connectivity
  • Refurbished unit now offers a bright and practical space for the community to meet
  • Positive early levels of engagement, with a number of skill share sessions already taking place, including clothes repair, knitting, arts and crafts, energy saving advice workshop and a visit from Norfolk Wildlife to encourage people to connect with nature, which attracted more than 50 attendees
  • 6 young people had attended a VIY project previously
  • 12 young people who attended The Shop have gone on to attend further VIY projects with us
  • 2 young people have already achieved EET progressions – going onto employment or further training


Accreditations gained: 15 City & Guilds Entry Level 3 in Carpentry, Tiling and Health & Safety

Coventrians Rugby Club

16 December 2021

Coventrians RFC, which celebrated its centenary as a club in 2021, is a valued community club in Coventry providing opportunities for local people to engage in playing rugby union, rugby league, football and bowls. To celebrate its centenary it was able to receive some much needed renovations.

Over a three week period 28 volunteers aged 14-24, referred to the project by Hereward School (SEN), Avon Valley School, Groundwork and Coventry Voluntary Action, and a local youth justice service team, helped to repave an existing patio, build and fence a new pagoda and redecorate the changing rooms. This created a new social area from which families and the local community could spectate and gather together after games.

The first of our projects in partnership with Toolstation, who provided funding for the mentoring and qualifications of the young people, donations of materials and equipment and volunteer staff, helped see to the completion of the project.26 of the 28 volunteers achieved a City & Guilds Entry Level 3 accreditation. They were even supported by former England player James Haskell!

Speaking of their debut project with us, Greg Richardson, Head of Marketing for Toolstation, said: “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.”

Coventry Saracens RFC

13 October 2023

Despite previously being a traditional grassroots rugby club, Coventry Saracens have now run thriving boys football teams since 2010. After the success of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, the granddaughters of club Football Coach Lee Thomas asked him “why don’t you have a girls team Grandad?” Three weeks later, they held their first girls session, with 16 young girls turning up to the first session. Pretty quickly, local sponsorship has helped to purchase kit and equipment, and to help keep the under 6 and 7s girls sessions free for all, training on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as providing food for the girls to eat together afterwards and build friendships.

The project:

We transformed their male-dominated changing rooms to make them fit-for-purpose and more welcoming for girls and neurodivergent young people. We built covered outdoor seating areas for spectators and young people with special needs like autism to take some time out when they need it. We then worked with local artist dynamickart to create an inspiring piece of artwork across the front of the club to celebrate the ‘friendship and respect’ ethos of the club and for all those wishing to play football.

Match-funded by Barclays Community Football Fund, Sport England and Think Active, all to help more local young people have access to football and to become more active, particularly those from underrepresented groups, including girls and those with disabilities and special educational needs.

The young people: 

25 young people, those involved in or at risk of crime supported by West Midlands Police, and those with disabilities or special educational needs from Hereward College

The impact:

  • Thriving young girls football teams with 20 young girls playing regularly, now with spaces more welcoming for them and for those with hidden disabilities
  • Since the VIY project, and other grants enabling the team to fit disabled facilities, a pan-disability team has now started at the club with 10 young neurodiverse players
  • Local businesses sponsoring and supporting their kit and equipment
  • Their ambition is to now start girls rugby too
  • One young person, on a reduced school timetable due to behaviour, picked up three days paid work as a labourer with a family member, directly off the back of his positive, hands-on experience with VIY and gaining his Entry Level 3 City & Guilds accreditation
  • Another young person has since applied to study carpentry at Rugby College from next year
  • West Midlands Police organised a presentation evening to award the young people their framed City & Guilds accreditations to those supported by the police, along with the gift of a measuring tape each, celebrating their positive achievement in front of their families
  • Due to the success of the project, and in particular the intervention for the local young people, West Midlands Police have since funded two further projects in Coventry through their Violence Reduction Unit, to help their young people gain more vital hands-on experience and accreditations
  • VIY are now working through a further four Police & Crime Commissioner Funds across the country in Warwickshire, North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire & Suffolk

Accreditations gained: 16 Entry Level 3 City & Guilds accreditations gained in Painting & Decorating and Carpentry

Hear us featured on BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire

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