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

The Bridge Project

13 April 2023

Working with Doncaster Careers Hub and Nexus Multi Academy Trust, VIY converted a disused school building at The Bridge School into a new community cafe and activity/exhibition space. 

The project: we designed and created a cafe, named by the students as The Copper Pipe, including decorating and indoor seating, alongside an outdoor seating area, decking and community garden – all through learning and applying carpentry skills.

The young people: 32 young volunteers from 10 local SEN schools

The impact:

  • The cafe is now run by students with special educational needs, offering work placements and supported internships, and acts as a venue for community activities and exhibitions, part of Doncaster Council’s Opportunity Area Initiative
  • The space is now also being for a baby sensory class, a monthly community counsellor surgery, as well as a Community Pantry, offering necessary and essential hygiene and food items to over 100 local people each week, in conjunction with Cambeth Community Project
  • The students hard work has paid off after being awarded a five star health & safety rating in November 2022
  • The project was also heavily supported by VIY partners Dulux and Travis Perkins and local construction sector employer Keepmoat Homes

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

See the full impact of the project in the partnership film below.

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 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 – 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.”

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.”

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