VIY volunteers become VIY Peer Mentors

6 September 2022 | All News

Here at Volunteer It Yourself, one of the pillars of our mission is to help inspire young people and better support them to progress towards and into employment, especially within construction. In turn, helping to develop the next generation of tradespeople and indeed ‘grow our own’ next generation of VIY Trade Mentors.

Welcome, then, our to our newest Peer Mentors, Liam Bensley and Kelsie Ferguson!

Liam, 22 (pictured right above), referred to VIY initially through the local JobCentre, first volunteered with VIY at our Community Hub project at East Norfolk Community College, where we were transforming a disused scout hut into a multi-functional community space.

Kelsie, 18 (pictured left above), who also joined the same project as Liam as a student from East Norfolk Community College, wanted to gain construction experience during the summer holidays.

Hear from Liam on becoming a VIY Peer Mentor

Both then returned to volunteer and gain their third City & Guilds accreditation at our project in partnership with Orbit Housing at their community in Gorleston, where we’ve been bringing a disused community room back to life with improvements to the interior/exterior, as well as creating a playful outdoor space, with the help of local young residents and young people there.

There, they both expressed an interest in staying with VIY and progressing as Peer Mentors, thanks to the support and teaching from their own VIY Mentors, Jasper, Matt (pictured central above) and Simon.

Simon Kitson, VIY Lead Mentor who has been instrumental in both Liam and Kelsie’s growth since volunteering with VIY, said: “They’ve both really stepped up from volunteer to Mentor really well. Not only that, I taught Kelsie how to saw some wood and the next week she was putting this learning into action, teaching another young volunteer in the exact same way! The true role of a VIY Peer Mentor.”

Jojo Yohannes, who progressed as a Peer Mentor and is now thriving as a Project Executive with VIY is proof of what the model can achieve: “There’s a real positive culture fostered by our people to achieve our goals, to empower young people and give them a chance. Through supporting Peer Mentors like myself, Liam and Kelsie, we’re developing the next socially-conscious generation for the construction industry, positively influenced by our own trade mentor role models of today.”

Since completing Gorleston Community Room, they’ve both been working on our latest projects with the UK Community Renewal Fund* in Norfolk; creating storage fit for purpose for the Fakenham Community Pantry, a foodbank in North Norfolk, and Bradwell Community Centre in Great Yarmouth, refreshing this multi-purpose space for young people.

Liam has also been supported with transport by the council, through their e-scooter scheme to help combat infrastructure challenges in the county.

* For more information on the UK Community Renewal Fund, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-community-renewal-fund- prospectus