Phoenix Centre

4 November 2022

The first of twelve projects in 2022 in partnership with Norfolk County Council through the UK Community Renewal Fund*.

The project:

The Phoenix Centre provides vital services to the local community in Mile Cross, Norwich, through food banks and children’s activities. Through our three week project there in March 2022, VIY were welcomed with open arms whilst we refreshed their interiors to make it a more inviting space for the community. The team even put on a lovely buffet to thank all of the team and young people for their hard work! We received another warm welcome as we returned to the centre in October 2022 to refresh even more rooms across the centre.

The young people: 20 local young volunteers, including those who use the centre itself, the Aspire project through City College Norwich and Future Education, for those with special educational needs.

The impact:

“The Phoenix Centre had an image of being dirty and unkempt prior to being painted and generally tidied by VIY. Some said they hadn’t come to events as it was unkempt and dirty – now people are actively booking rooms and attending events.” 

Christine Rumsby, Chair, Phoenix Centre

Archie, a young volunteer who was NEET on arrival at VIY through Norfolk County Council, has since been supported by VIY and local partners at the Clarion Housing Association onto an SIA course to gain his security license – although he’d also like to pursue a painting & decorating career in the future – as he told us below.

Bailey a young, regular volunteer to the centre, who struggles in mainstream education and watched hesitantly for the first week, was inspired to get involved and eventually said in their words (as seen below) they’d had the ‘best time of my life’.

Accreditations gained: 24 City & Guilds Entry Level 3 in Painting & Decorating, Carpentry and Health & Safety

* You can find more information, on the UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund here.

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 (our first donated by Benchmarx!) 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.

YMCA Dickerage

15 December 2021

YMCA Dickerage Sports & Community Centre, in New Malden, Kingston Upon Thames, is an integral part of its community providing local, young people from diverse backgrounds opportunities to socialise and take part in sports and activities, whilst also providing opportunities to gain qualifications. This made it an ideal project for VIY to help with.

With funding from Sport England and Toolstation, who also helped to supply materials alongside Travis Perkins, the centre saw a complete revamp of its outdoor spaces including new outdoor seating being built, a new digital education space built and its kitchen and café area refurbished.

The project was completed by 31 volunteers, many of them not involved with mainstream education or training, aged between 14-24. Across 560 hours of work these young people achieved 38 Level 3 City & Guild accreditations in carpentry, health & safety and painting & decorating.

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.“

Youth Concern Drop-In Centre

16 August 2018

Youth Concern supports young people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, and VIY has run two projects at the charity’s drop-in centre in Aylesbury. The centre was in real need of refurbishment and the projects were a great opportunity for many of the young people who attend the centre to get involved in something different and to gain new skills and an employability accreditation.

The first project, in 2017, covered the interior redecoration of the centre as well as the building of a new outside decking area and external storage shed (to free up much-needed meeting space within the centre). The second project, in 2018, focused on replacing the centre’s perimeter fence and main gate.

Both projects were supported by Wickes Aylesbury with staff providing additional mentoring support, in addition to donating all the tools and materials. A grant from Heart of Bucks also contributed to the delivery of the projects.

18 young people aged 19-25 participated over the two projects, contributing more than 500 volunteer hours. All were referred by Youth Concern and the local Job Centre Plus, with the majority being long-term unemployed. Ultimately, 14 of the young people taking part successfully achieved the Entry Level 3 City & Guilds employability skills qualification, and three of them also progressed into employment within three months of finishing on VIY.  Some of the young volunteers also subsequently went on to take part in the Golden Mede VIY project based at a new housing development outside of Aylesbury, building their skills further and gaining paid work opportunities with the lead contractor on site.

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