VIY’s inspiring volunteers: Bill Langwith

26 October 2022 | All News

Bill Langwith is one of VIY’s original Trade Mentors. Now 80 years old, he’s had a whole lifetime in the trade (over 60 years in fact!), first starting in heating & ventilation, before moving on to mechanical building. Since volunteering and then working with VIY, he’s also honed his passion for woodwork, discovering invaluable new skills for life. 

We sat down with Bill to find out all about his VIY journey, and what volunteering means to him. Have a read below.

Fancy following in Bill’s footsteps? We’re on the lookout for Trade Mentors as well as volunteers lending a hand in the North West, the Midlands and Norfolk – get in touch with Karen, our Mentors Manager, if you fancy having a chat.

I’d like to talk about mentoring or volunteering opportunities

In conversation with Bill ‘Total Legend’ Langwith.

First volunteering with VIY back in 2015 at the Eric Allen Community House in partnership with Haringey Council in North London, Bill helped to renovate this disused community centre and mentored local residents, loving the experience of helping young people to take their minds off challenging issues through learning new skills. 

Bill recently returned to mentor young volunteers at Woodford Rugby Club in Essex

 

What do you enjoy the most about mentoring with VIY?

“I really love the job, it gives me full satisfaction and purpose. A highlight was hearing a young person say it was the ‘best day of my life’. It’s all worthwhile to help young people have those days.”

 

How has VIY changed your life?

“As well as all of the young people I’ve volunteered alongside through VIY, I’ve made friends for life. Before VIY, I mentored a guy in my local area, got him into the trade with me away from trouble and we struck up a great working relationship. I was building my own next generation in the trade. When I started working for VIY, I brought him with me and now that man is Alan Dalton, VIY’s Head Mentor [pictured above together]. We’re still great friends now, more like father and son.

“Alan is a real example of how we can build the next generation, through volunteering, nurture and mentoring. Whether that be a tradesperson becoming a VIY Trade Mentor or one of the young people we work with, VIY makes a real difference to people’s lives and their community.” 

Bill catching up recently with VIY family Neil, Alan and Sue

 

Following that first taste of VIY, Bill has mentored on over 20 projects, earning the nickname ‘Total Legend’ after he went above and beyond to fix the aircon during a project at The Macbeth pub in Hackney, part of the Good Growth Fund through the Greater London Authority. Stories like these, along with his venerable age of 80, not to mention his positive can-do attitude, mean that Bill is firmly in the ‘VIY Hall of Fame’. 

 

Why do you believe in VIY? 

“VIY is not just a job, it’s a purpose. Yes, you get job satisfaction from doing a job well, but with VIY you can really help a young person in their life. 

“My first project was a definite eye opener for me into the lives of young people growing up in London today. VIY can only do good for young people and the mentors teaching them. I’m glad I’ve been able to pass on a bit of what I know to the young people I’ve worked with, and I hope it plays at least a small part in them securing a job in the future.

“The best moment is when the young people have had behavioural or mental health problems in the past, and we can get them really interested in learning new skills. VIY is something special.”

 

Why is volunteering important to you? 

I’ve volunteered at my local church for over 12 years, alongside working for VIY; sorting leaky taps, refreshing benches (keeping those woodwork skills alive!), the odd jobs they need someone to do. Volunteering still keeps me active – I’m no couch potato and like to keep busy to keep active, so I like helping out and feeling like I’m still making a difference to those around me.” 

Bill mentoring young volunteers