Magic Youth Club

5 June 2018

The Magic Club project in Claremont, Blackpool (one of the poorest wards in the UK), involved the refurbishment and repurposing of an old, derelict magician’s theatre as a new youth club/youth centre.

More than 50 young people volunteered on the project, recruited via The Prince’s Trust and also, in partnership with The Careers & Enterprise Company, Merseyside Police, and local schools and colleges. Working with a team of VIY Mentors, the participants took on a variety of jobs, including stripping out old fittings and furnishings, installing a new kitchen and toilet, installing a new disabled access doorway and ramp, relaying and levelling the main hall floor, and painting and decorating throughout. In the process, participants worked towards achieving a City & Guilds Entry Level 3 employability skills qualification.

Project activities were principally funded by Blackpool Council, The Careers & Enterprise Company, Merseyside Police and Wickes, with Wickes also providing all tools and materials at no cost.

50% of the school students who took part in the project were on the brink of exclusion, or had recently returned to school having been excluded, and the schools subsequently reported that all of these students remained successfully engaged at school six months beyond the end of their VIY experience.

The centre was officially opened in March 2018 and is now a bustling youth club, the only one in Claremont. The club already has 140 members aged 8-16 regularly attending and currently runs three sessions a week, covering activities such as sports and drama, and workshops on relationships, sexual health and identity. The centre also continues to host ‘hands on’ VIY workshops to engage new cohorts of young people wanting to learn vocational trade skills.

The VIY Magic Club project was also visited and commended by Dame Julia Cleverdon, Vice President of Business In The Community and a board member at The Careers & Enterprise Company.

Marden Boxing Club

27 August 2019

Marden is a community boxing club based in an old church hall that was built in the 1930s. Located in one of the most disadvantaged wards in Newcastle, Marden gives local young people a safe environment in which to train, compete or just make and see friends.

In April 2019, 17 young students from Gateshead College volunteered to help improve the centre as a VIY-Sport England partnership project. None of them had visited the boxing club before. They helped to increase the size of the main gym, removed a partition wall, and extended the training area into an old kitchen space. They also created a new changing room in a disused storeroom and installed new cubicles in the bathrooms.

This work has allowed the club to host extra participants, as well as to improve safety, at their training sessions. They are also now able, for the first time, to attract female boxers to the club due to the newly-created separate changing rooms and toilet facilities.

Dean Preston, manager and coach at Marden Boxing Club, explains: “The project has been a great success and a massive boost for the club. As a not-for-profit community club, we depend on external support. VIY and Wickes have been amazing. We have managed to increase our space and give existing and new members a safer facility to train in. Without their help none of this would have been possible.

All 17 college students/young volunteers earned a City & Guilds Health & Safety accreditation as a result and Allen Hooker, their course tutor at Gateshead College, said: “The learners were buzzing about volunteering on this project and can’t wait to be involved in more opportunities like this at the club and with VIY down the line.”

Meadowbrook Pupil Referral Unit

15 August 2018

Meadowbrook College is a PRU (Pupil Referral Unit) that works with young people who are excluded, or at risk of exclusion, from mainstream schools and among the most vulnerable young people in Oxfordshire.

Our work with Meadowbrook covered the involvement of 18 of their students, all aged 15/16, as volunteers in the refurbishment of four community facilities between August 2017 and June 2018.

The work carried out across the four facilities (Barton Leisure Centre and Ferry Leisure Centre in Oxford, and Meadowbrook College’s own campuses in Abingdon and Bicester) included skills such as painting and decorating, plumbing, plastering and tiling, and the young people were mentored on the job by a team of three local professional tradespeople. In the process, the young participants contributed more than 500 volunteer hours whilst working towards achieving multiple City & Guilds Entry Level 3 trade skills accreditations.

One of the participants, 15-year-old Jason Higginson, had been at Meadowbrook for a year prior to signing up for the VIY project. He was attracted by the opportunity to volunteer and do something for his community at the same time as learning new skills and improving his employment prospects. He successfully achieved the Entry Level City & Guilds qualification and is now targeting a starter job as a painting and decorating apprentice on leaving Meadowbrook in June 2019.

Mersey Bowmen Tennis Club

7 April 2019

Mersey Bowmen is one of the oldest tennis clubs in the country in a deprived part of Liverpool, and were having severe issues with flooding and damp, and the clubhouse was becoming rundown as a result. They applied to VIY for help and, over several weeks, VIY mentors worked with more than 30 local young volunteers to design and install new drainage gullies and also to carry out a much-needed full internal and external redecoration of the clubhouse.

The young volunteers were referred into the project by Merseyside Sports Partnership and Greenbank College, located near to the club. and most of them were first-time volunteers and had never previously been involved with activities at Mersey Bowmen. All of the young volunteers also achieved an Entry Level 3 City & Guilds Accreditation in Painting and Decorating as a result of their participation.

Alan Haddy, Club Manager at Mersey Bowmen, was delighted with the impact of the project: “We’ve greatly benefitted from the VIY project. The VIY staff and mentors were very supportive and provided expert advice in addressing our facility maintenance and repair requirements. VIY also led on recruiting local young people to volunteer and participate, and managed all activities onsite. It’s been very smooth running. The project has also helped to introduce many more young people to our club and to tennis, and to engage them in further opportunities with us, such as the free coaching sessions we provide every Sunday.”

MK Dons Football Club

5 June 2018

Through Wickes’ sponsorship of the EFL (English Football League), MK Dons FC approached VIY for help with creating a new disabled changing facility at the club’s stadium. The scope of work included bricklaying, plastering, tiling and painting and decorating and was undertaken by construction students from Milton Keynes College, guided on the job by VIY Mentors. As well as being willing volunteers, the students were looking for community-based work experience that would also help open doors to future apprenticeship and other employment opportunities.

MK Dons’ manager Robbie Neilson attended the project and commented: “It’s fantastic that so many members of the community have come together to help MK Dons create this new facility for visitors to the club. Seeing all these people pitching in to do their bit for the project was inspiring.”

David Sanderson, Store Manager at Wickes Bletchley, added: “We’re delighted that we’ve been able to help MK Dons by ensuring that the volunteers have all the materials and tools they need. It’s great to be involved in such a fantastic project which motivates and excites young people at the same time as teaching them useful skills.”

Pembroke House

6 April 2019

Pembroke House works in support of social action and residential community in Walworth, South London. They run several community engagement programmes covering activities and themes such as music and arts, health and wellbeing, and education and learning.

In early 2019, the charity was set to take on an old church hall – All Saints Hall – to be repurposed as ‘Walworth’s Living Room’, a new community centre intended to be a focal point for the local area. However, the hall had been empty for a long period of time, and needed extensive renovation work to make it safe and fit for purpose, so Pembroke House applied to VIY for help via the GLA’s Good Growth Fund to enable a first stage refurbishment of the main hall.

VIY proceeded to undertake several phases of work at All Saints Hall, covering a complete strip out, including a previously installed hung ceiling, refurbishing three washrooms and installing a new disabled WC, redecorating the main hall and side hall, and sanding and lacquering the original parquet floor. These works involved 86 young people from the local area, including referrals from South Thames College and a local secondary school. The majority of young volunteers, however, were not in education, employment or training and 29 successfully gained a City & Guilds Entry Level 3 construction trade skills qualification through their participation.

The building was totally transformed by the project with Mike Wilson, CEO at Pembroke House, commenting: “The young people and VIY mentors have transformed All Saints Hall from a dark and dilapidated old church hall into a characterful community space filled with light. We can’t wait to show off the young people’s work as we open the doors to the wider community – and having young people from the local community help to restore the venue has been central to the project.”

Portico Vine Rugby League Club

15 August 2015

Portico Vine Rugby League Club was a winner of a national promotion held by radio station talkSPORT in partnership with Wickes that offered support to grassroots sports clubs struggling with poor facilities.

More than 20 young club members, supported by a team of local VIY trade skills mentors, volunteered on the project, with work including the renovation of the changing rooms, toilets and showers, as well as the creation of a new disabled toilet, disabled access ramps, first aid and phsyio area, dedicated changing space for referees and coaches, and a storage room.

The project ran over four weeks and once completed, enabled Portico Vine to start a disabled fitness club as well as wheelchair rugby sessions.

“The project really opened doors for us with the local community, all thanks to Wickes, talkSPORT and VIY, and the support we received from everyone, especially the VIY mentors who gave their time to work alongside the young people, was tremendous,” said club chairman Andy Conor.

“We’re now able to welcome a wider, more diverse range of people into our club thanks to this renovation work, and the project has also had a really positive and motivating effect on new and existing members.”

Redditch Youth Hub

22 August 2022

Young Solutions, a youth training provider in Worcestershire, have never had a central location to meet and help young people from. They were faced with an office in the local town hall, which wouldn’t have been fit to run training activities and support groups, to benefit the learning, development and next steps for their young people.

The project: This 14 day VIY project was our sixth in partnership with Toolstation, seeing us convert two disused units, formerly used as a foodbank underneath the Kingfisher Shopping Centre, into one space for local young people to make their own. We’ve repainted the whole space and refurbished with a new kitchen and storage facilities for future communal events and classes, whilst the outdoor space has been renovated with outdoor seating and will host regular sporting activities and community events. It also features a kitchen area for young people to learn cookery and provide free meals to people participating in sporting activities.

The young people: 17 volunteers from youth support organisations in the local area, including YMCA Redditch, Bromsgrove District Council and the UP Foundation

The impact? A profound result for the local community, the young VIY volunteers and a new space they’ve even named themselves – W.I.S.E. Luke Maguire, Enhanced Youth Support Officer for Young Solutions, who’s dedicated half of his life to working with young people, has never seen impact like this.

“I can’t praise the VIY mentors enough. They were able to generate a relationship with these people inside 3-4 days and help contribute towards the ambitions of the young people we work with to help them want to work, learn and grow, which usually needs weeks or months to make inroads. 

One key example for me was a young man who had recently gone through substance misuse and alcohol addiction and looked unlikely to complete our course, then came in on Monday (after a weekend) and said, “I decided not to get wrecked last night, I wanted to come in today fresh and not get buzzed out.”

By day 3-4, this young man had actively decided against taking a substance the night before and he made a decision to go down path A and not B, all because he wanted to come in, complete his work and take ownership of what he was tasked with that day. This project potentially influenced a young man to make a decision that could have saved his life. That’s the true impact VIY can make.”

Accreditations gained: 12 Entry Level 3 City & Guilds accreditations in Carpentry, Painting & Decorating and Health & Safety

See the project in action here

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.

Woking Youth Arts Centre

15 August 2017

Woking Youth Arts Centre is a music and performing arts space for young people, formerly used as a rehearsal venue by The Spice Girls in the early 1990s. In 2016/17, on behalf of Surrey County Council, VIY ran a project at the council-owned centre to help upgrade its facilities and allow the venue to serve as the new base for a local youth club that had out-grown its former home.

Over ten weeks 25 young people worked together with four VIY trade skills mentors to undertake a series of urgent refurbishment tasks at the centre, including demolishing interior (non-structural) walls to create a larger principal activity space, renovating the toilets/washrooms and kitchen, repairing the studio floor, and redecorating the centre throughout. The young volunteers had no prior trade skills experience and were all referred into the project by The Amber Foundation (who support young people who are unemployed and/or at risk of homelessness). 19 of the young people ultimately achieved a City & Guilds Entry Level 3 trade skills qualification as a result of their participation.

VIY enabled the project for a total cost of £10,000 (funded by Surrey County Council), thanks in large part to Wickes Woking who provided all tools and materials needed for the project at no cost.

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