DIY Space for London

Completed: 2019
Location: Southwark
Region: London
Other local partners: Greater London Authority, Amber Foundation, London South East Colleges

About the project

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.

We are always very happy to work with VIY. It gives our young people invaluable hands-on work experience and a recognised qualification which is great. Sarah Johnson, Centre Manager, The Amber Foundation
I feel like this project has helped me a lot because I have got to try things that I never thought I would ever do. I have realised that I love tiling and I would love to take it further and possibly have a career in it in the future. Annabelle Hooper, Amber Foundation Learner
I really enjoyed worked with the mentors who supervised us. It was a great opportunity and I think the plumbing and carpentry skills I've picked up will be useful in the future when working on building sites and I would love a career in construction. Jack Withrow, Amber Foundation Learner