VIY is significant and important because it's about:
- Young people learning new skills and improving their employability
- Local communities and different generations coming together to become more strongly involved in local regeneration, volunteering and social action
- Youth clubs being secured and strengthened as hubs for postive youth engagement
- Young people motivated to improve spaces and places that they use and benefit from
- Young people (often disengaged from mainstream education) learning new skills whilst volunteering on projects with real relevance and community value, rather than in a conventional, formal learning environment
- Businesses such as Wickes contributing assets other than cash to benefit communities in which they work – such as their products and materials and the skills and talents of their employees and customers
- Mobilising and valuing tradespeople as inspirational mentors and broader role models for young people
- Helping to address the chronic shortage of qualified tradespeople in the UK by inspiring the next generation to consider learning a trade
Shamak Czachowski from Haringey in north London was NEET (not in employment, education or training) prior to signing up to participate in a local VIY project, aged 17, having been referred via Job Centre Plus. Over four weeks on the Eric Allin Centre project in Tottenham, Shamak committed more than 50 volunteer hours, at the same time as working towards and achieving Entry Level 3 City & Guilds accreditations in both plumbing and tiling. In the process, Shamak so impressed one of the local building and construction companies (Ideal Handyman) providing skills mentors on the project, they offered him a paid apprenticeship, in conjunction with the College of North East London. Shamak’s journey has also gone full circle, with him now volunteering in his spare time with VIY as a peer mentor for young people on new VIY projects across north London.
“VIY is made for people who want to get hands on and learn new skills while doing something great for their local youth club or community centre” - Imran
Imran owns his own multi-trade business 'Alex & Jones Maintenance' in Birmingham and has volunteered countless hours of his time and support for young people on VIY.
Imran first got involved with VIY in February 2013 after he saw an advert calling out for volunteer tradespeople both in a Wickes store and on Rated People. He initially agreed to volunteer a few hours, but he quickly discovered he really enjoyed passing on his skills to young people. Since then he has been involved in more than 50 projects in the West Midlands and elsewhere in the UK, helping about 1,200 young people gain City & Guilds qualifications.
Imran has now trained to become a VIY Lead Mentor and, as well as mentoring young people on projects, he also helps set up and assess new VIY projects, and brief and train other less experienced mentors. He also does outreach work in schools, delivering assembly talks and running classroom sessions.
"It's great to see how young people develop their skills whilst working on a VIY project. Many of them come to VIY thinking that that they're not very good at learning, but once involved, they realise they can pick up new vocational skills very quickly, and that finding a job doing something you really enjoy is possible." - Imran
Shanur is the club manager at Newark Youth in London. Newark Youth Club started working with VIY in mid-October 2012, with the project being completed in December. Renovation of the entire building was undertaken, including the re-decoration of all communal rooms and the removal and replacement of carpets with laminate flooring.
During the completion of this project, high rates of anti-social behaviour were observed in the surrounding area and it was clear that there was still not enough youth provision for the young people living there. Shanur was so enthusiastic about VIY and about wanting to create more youth provisions that he went on to support VIY with the transformation of a neglected space in the area into a brand new youth club!
These VIY projects have been such a success that one group of participants has since been inspired to set up their own social enterprise, offering basic painting and decorating services to those in their local community.
Shanur feels "the VIY project has fast tracked neglected space into a much needed youth club and community space which otherwise could have taken a very long time." He says both projects "allowed Newark to engage young people into more positive activities on a regular basis and, most importantly, by participating in the VIY projects the young people now have ownership of the space and feel a better part of their community; and they have accreditation's to prove it!"
"VIY has definitely been the most innovative project I've been involved with in my career as youth worker."