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
The Islington Arts Factory building is a former church which was in need of some VIY attention. A group of young people joined the VIY project to renovate the community café area of the Arts Factory, including laying a new floor and painting the walls. Elenor Pearce, Director for Visual Arts commented on the programme.
"We are so thankful for the group of young people giving the space so much love and attention. People have been making comments about how much a nicer space it is now."
Lucy, a 16 year old local Islington resident was one of the VIY participants. Lucy got involved in the project as she was looking for something to occupy her time and wanted to develop her DIY skills in order to be more self-sufficient. On completion of the 10 week programme, Lucy achieved an entry level 3 City & Guilds qualification in Health and Safety, Painting and Decorating and Carpentry.
"On the VIY project, I loved getting messy and getting the job done. I think it's important that once you start a job, that you get it finished so that's what I did" - Lucy.
Following participation in the VIY project Lucy was offered a place on the centre's art classes after bringing in her own drawings and impressing the centre manager with her talent! Lucy has been attending the classes ever since and hopes to be part of the young people exhibition at the centre later this year.
“(VIY) is made for people who want to get their hands dirty and learn while doing something great for their youth club” - 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.
Imran 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 20 projects in four different regions in the UK, helping about 700 young people gain City & Guilds qualifications.
He has now trained to become a VIY Lead Mentor and now helps with more facets of the organisation. He assesses the volunteers and works with the VIY training providers on the City & Guilds qualifications, on top of trade support to all VIY activity in the West Midlands.
"It's great to see how young people develop their skills while doing the VIY project. Many of them always had the feeling before that they were not very good at learning, but here, they realise they can learn skills very quickly, and that finding a job in something you really like 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."