West Nottinghamshire College

10 June 2022

Students at West Nottinghamshire College transformed a barren piece of land at their Derby Road campus while learning new skills for the future.

The foundation studies team were keen to turn an unused grassy space, which sits between the college’s restaurant area and the animal care unit, into a kitchen garden which would both nurture the students’ horticultural and environmental skills as well as grow produce for the restaurant’s kitchens and the animals in the neighbouring unit.

We created raised growing beds set with new vegetables, herbs and flowers, created a shed, composting bin and wider paved areas to enable students in wheelchairs to enjoy the same access to the garden as able-bodied students. This will enable them to put new skills into practice and to help broaden their knowledge on the food supply chain and environmental impact of food miles.

The project was supported by the Mansfield branch of our trade partner, Travis Perkins, who provided wooden sleepers, paving slabs and a large potting shed to help turn the bare grassy area into a new garden space over a period of just three weeks. This was overseen by Assistant Branch Manager Zoe Ruston, herself a former media production student at the college’s Derby Road campus.

More than 23 foundation studies students have spent practical lessons out in the garden throughout May, mentored and coached by our Trade Skills mentors, who have introduced them to a range of joinery, construction and painting skills, resulting in the group being awarded Entry Level 3 accreditations in carpentry and health and safety. 

Funded by the UK Community Renewal Fund.

Dublin Castle

7 March 2022

In January 2022, we renovated the iconic Camden music venue, The Dublin Castle, which has been home to the early careers of British music legends like Madness, Blur and Amy Winehouse (who could sometimes be seen serving behind the bar too!) 

The pub opened in 1857 to serve the workmen at the nearby railway and slowly transformed from occasionally hosting Irish folk music sessions to now hosting their popular weekly Tuesday night jam, including appearances from major bands such as The Libertines.

Our first project of the year was also our first in partnership with Allianz Musical Insurance, who are helping to revive music venues hard hit by the pandemic. We created new accessible toilets, re-soundproofed the staging area and gave the interior a fresh lick of  black and their iconic red paint.

Two great local referral partners nominated 12 young people from New City College and a London-based training provider called ELATT, who were really engaged and enjoyed working on the project. Overall 12 young people earned 23 accreditations between them.

We also worked with UK Trade Association Federation of Master Builders having previously worked with them at The Sound Lounge. Two of their local members volunteered as Trade Mentors, and our young volunteers also received a work readiness talk by a local Contracts Manager from Avondale Construction. A real inspiring, collaborative industry effort – thanks team!

The Dublin Castle is now ‘back to black’ and ready to welcome gig goers back into their newly renovated space. Venue owner, Henry Conlon, is thrilled to have worked with VIY on their renovations:

“We’re overwhelmed to see the enthusiasm of young people who were actively engaged and involved within this project.

The students dedicated their days to the projects under the expertise, reassurance and the guidance of the VIY mentors. The VIY project stimulated the minds of the young as they could see that the work they were doing was actually helping the continuity of live music performance here at The Dublin Castle.

They’ve gained new skills and honed their craftsmanship in several areas of the venue. Often under the watchful eye of mentors, the projects built shall last for decades. The result is continuity of the venue for audiences and musicians to enjoy for years to come.

VIY’s work is essential, as it physically helps young people re-engage with work and their essential contribution to Grassroots Music Venues who struggle financially to maintain their venues.”

Basingstoke Rugby Club

18 January 2019

VIY worked with Basingstoke Rugby Club on two Sport England-funded projects in 2018-2019. Basingstoke RFC is a growing club with a strong presence in the local area. They have a rapidly growing female membership and needed to improve their clubhouse facilities to meet this demand. They also wanted to improve disabled access and security and create a new office space.

With these aims in mind, VIY trade skills mentors helped young people at the club to: create new female shower facilities; build a new disabled ramp and install handrails to improve accessibility to the clubhouse; brick up a window in the clubhouse shop which had previously been a security risk, build more outside seating for those less able to stand on match and community days; and refurbish and repurpose a disused storage space as a new office.

28 young people from the club were involved over both projects, 17 of whom gained an Entry Level 3 City & Guilds Accreditation in Carpentry Skills through their participation. The second project at the club was enabled by an all-female team of VIY mentors and young volunteers, affirming both the club’s and VIY’s commitment to female participation in volunteering, sport and construction.

The club was delighted with the outcomes from the two projects, with Chairwoman Michele Amos commenting: “The building works have really made a difference. The ramp and handrails have greatly improved access to the clubhouse for those with restricted mobility or balance. We’ve greatly improved gender access to the shower block and privacy in that area. And the new seating has improved facilities for those who cannot stand for long periods outside the club, especially on match days. We also really enjoyed working with VIY – the mentors were so lovely and they really brought out the best in our young volunteers. The VIY projects have set a great example, and all the young people involved have continued volunteering regularly at the club as a result.”

As a footnote, the improvements made to the club’s facilities through VIY have also helped the club to develop their future plans for growth, and the club has since received a £50,000 RFU grant to extend their facilities further.

Birchwood Care Home

15 August 2018

Birchwood Care Home is a residential facility in Chesham, Bucks, and the project was recommended by the local Wickes Store Manager, Kelly Murch. The main aim of the project was to make the home’s garden more accessible to wheelchair users. This included creating/laying a new paved path around the perimeter of the building, plus the creation of new wheelchair accessible planters and raised flower beds to give all residents the chance to practice their gardening skills and help maintain the garden.

Kelly explains: “In 2017 I met an amazing lady in our store called Anita who volunteers at Birchwood Care Home. She was working tirelessly to improve standards for the residents and had a big project in mind. I made contact with VIY who were so supportive and blew me away by saying they would happily look at what they could do. Alan, a Lead Mentor with VIY, visited the home and put a plan of action in place, and then the project started.”

Over eight days, nine young people referred into the project by nearby Stoney Dean School (and deemed at risk of disengagement) contributed more than 270 volunteer hours on site, supported by VIY Lead Mentors, three members of staff from Wickes Chesham, and also residents at the home – and all of the young people ultimately achieved an Entry Level 3 City & Guilds carpentry accreditation as a result of their efforts.

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.

Chapel-en-le-Frith High School

15 August 2018

Chapel-en-le-Frith School is one of 100 secondary schools across England that have taken 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 involves 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.

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.”

Croydon Football Club

5 June 2018

Running over five months (April-August 2018), the VIY project at Croydon FC involved building a new changing room and washroom extension to boost the club’s growth and sustainability.

The project was one of 16 funded through Sport England’s Potentials Fund, all aimed at engaging more young people in volunteering via their local sports club at the same time as helping clubs to enable essential facility improvements.

119 young volunteers and 40 trade skills mentors took part at Croydon FC across eight project phases, from initially clearing the site and laying the concrete base, through to the complete construction, fit out and finishing of the extension. In the process, the young volunteers undertook a wide mix of tasks including timber frame carpentry, plasterboarding, drylining, tiling, plumbing and painting and decorating – with 44 participants ultimately achieving an Entry Level 3 City & Guilds construction skills qualification by the end of the project.

The project was also supported by five different Wickes stores through the provision of free tools and materials as well as the contribution of both staff and trade customers as skills mentors for the young volunteers

All of the young people involved were recruited and nominated by local charity The Kinetic Foundation, which helps young people through sport into employment, education and training. Many of the young people, although living locally, were new to the club but since taking part in the VIY project have remained involved.

16 year old participant Nile Waite explains: “I really enjoyed working on the project in the first week so I came back to do more. I’ve gained a City & Guilds qualification, which has been great for my confidence and my prospects, and helping your local sports club feels really good and I’ve signed up to keep volunteering – and playing football! – at the club in the future.”

DIY Space for London

7 April 2019

DIY Space for London (DSFL) is a volunteer-run community live music and arts space that offers activities and events to communities who may not otherwise have access to similar spaces. It is also a Music Venue Trust (MVT) member.

The venue is well used and highly valued by local young people especially, but the washrooms/toilets, bar area and outside space had all become rundown and in need of urgent improvement. DSFL therefore approached VIY for help through our partnership with the GLA’s Good Growth Fund.

Over four weeks, a VIY team of four skills mentors and 23 young volunteers completed the following work: the full strip-out and refurbishment of the washrooms, including building new cubicles and installing new toilets and sinks, refurbishing/redecorating the bar area, and transforming the outdoor space with new benches and planters. 18 of the participants were referred by The Amber Foundation, an organisation that supports unemployed young people at risk of homelessness, and five were construction students from London South East Colleges wanting to gain community-based work experience. Four of The Amber Foundation learners were also taking part in their second VIY project and looking to gain additional accreditations in different trade skills.

By the end of the project, 20 of the young participants had successfully achieved a City & Guilds Entry Level accreditation in carpentry, plumbing/pipework, tiling and/or health and safety. Also, the mentoring team included 21-year old Umar Mansaray, originally from Sierra Leone and a brilliant past volunteer on five previous VIY projects, who was stepping up for the first time to serve as a formal Peer Mentor for new participants.

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