14 June 2013
On Wednesday 13th June the Volunteer It Yourself (VIY) project was visited by Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society.
The Minister was shown around Hall Green Boxing Club in Tyseley, Birmingham, and met a group of young volunteers, all aged 14-17, who are undertaking urgently needed repair and refurbishment work on the club with the support of local tradespeople.
As well as helping to fix and improve their club building, the young volunteers will earn a vocational qualification and get the opportunity to progress to further work placement and apprenticeship opportunities with local employers.
The young people and the tradespeople volunteering at Hall Green are all taking part in an innovative project called VIY. Backed by Big Lottery Fund, VIY involves more than 1,000 young people and 200 trade skills mentors at 47 locations across England and Wales working together to fix and refurbish local youth club buildings in need of essential repairs.
Hall Green Boxing Club is one of six youth clubs in Birmingham currently taking part in VIY. The club has been partnered with the local Wickes DIY retail store in Hall Green which is providing all the materials needed for free and also helping recruit local tradespeople as volunteer mentors. Work underway at Hall Green Boxing Club includes refurbishing the sub-standard toilet, shower and changing room facilities.
In addition to London Youth and Wickes, other VIY project partners include vocational education body City & Guilds, Cospa (an agency that specialises in developing social innovation projects of this type) and other regional youth organisation networks such the Birmingham Association of Youth Clubs.
Minister Nick Hurd’s visit to Hall Green Boxing Club follows on from the presentation of a Big Society Award to the VIY project by Prime Minister David Cameron at the end of last year and he made the following comment: “This project is impressive. It gets young people involved in refurbishing their local youth club, which clearly makes a big difference to the local community, but it also gives them the opportunity to develop skills which will look great on their CV.”
Rosie Ferguson, Chief Executive of London Youth said: “VIY is a brilliant way for young people to learn new skills, and have a real stake in their youth club, by learning skills from skilled tradespeople who live and work in the local community. We’ve seen first hand the impact the project has had for hundreds of young Londoners who have already refurbished clubs across the capital, and we’re delighted that young people at Hall Green and across Birmingham are now getting the same opportunity.”
According to VIY participant and Hall Green Boxing Club member "I come to the club almost every day and I wanted to do this project because it helps the club but also gives me a qualification. It feels like real work and different to trying to learn something at school or college.”
Lead skills mentor and local tradesman Hermes added: "We’re really keen to do what we can to give something to these young people. They like to work and I think they're good at it. This is a great way to show them what building work is all about and how it might be for them."
Roger Winhall, Head of Policy and Learning at Big Lottery Fund, said: “VIY is giving young people across Birmingham the opportunity to gain new qualifications and improve their prospects, while at the same time ensuring that the city has a range of up-to-date facilities where young people can socialise and get involved in positive activities for years to come.
“The energy and enthusiasm of the young people at the Hall Green Boxing Club launch was palpable, and testament to what a brilliant and engaging project this is.”