fbpx Our VIY Journey - London Youth

02 May 2014

Friday 2 May 2014

On Wednesday 30 April our award-winning Volunteer It Yourself (VIY) programme completed two years of delivery thanks to an investment from the Big Lottery Fund. During this time VIY worked with 59 clubs across England and Wales and saw 1,047 young people achieve City & Guilds accreditation.

The VIY team of Georgie, Rachael and Miranda, aka Gary's Angels, were asked about what they learnt from their time on VIY and this is what they had to say… 

Georgie's VIY Journey

Joining the VIY team in October 2013 (18 months into the project) was a daunting prospect. Another project to learn, new colleagues to get to know, ambitious targets to aim for… When I took the role, I knew that I could be facing a challenging but exciting six months but still jumped at the chance to work on such an incredible project.

I will take two main learnings from my time as Project Manager for VIY. The first is the importance of team work. I’m so proud to be part of such an inspiring, hard working and committed team! An honorary patron of the ‘Teamwork makes the dream work’ club, I can’t emphasise enough the importance that I place on having a strong team.

Very early on we all discovered a shared love for food – and it’s really important to have something other than work to talk about when the going gets tough. Sometimes, only food will cut it (pun intended) and a shared passion for culinary delights combined with a shared commitment to deliver an incredible project for young people bonded the VIY team like glue.

The key learning from this is take time to know your fellow colleagues, invest in their wellbeing, support and encourage them through difficult times because at some point you might just need that support yourself. A strong team can get you through even the hardest of targets! Being part of the creation of such a strong VIY team – the only national working team at London Youth – is my biggest personal achievement from my time on the project because I truly believe that without this team we wouldn’t have achieved what we did. Teamwork really does make the dream work!

My second learning is in the importance of being flexible and adaptable in the face of challenge. It’s OK to change things. It’s OK for things to be different to what they were a year ago. It’s OK that outcomes and priorities shift, so long as this is done with the young people and participants in mind. It’s important for projects to evolve over time to ensure that we’re doing all we can to enable young people to become all that they can be.

I joined VIY expecting an exciting challenge and it certainly delivered. A brilliant time spent at London Youth with lots of amazing experiences and learning that I know I will utilise in my next role. Thank you for having me, London Youth! It’s been awesome!

Rachael’s VIY journey

Just over a year ago, I joined the VIY team at London Youth, into my first job at a charity. To say I was excited would be an understatement and with so many amazing highlights from my time on VIY it would be a real shame to miss any out so I have listed them below!


  • Getting the Lansdowne Centre project up and running in three weeks and getting volunteers from London Youth and the Big Lottery Fund involved too
  • Building relationships with regional organisations, getting to know how they work with their member clubs and learning from them
  • Seeing young people learn with their friends while working alongside some brilliant volunteer trade mentors
  • Our VIY residential at Woodrow last September. It was great to see the boys from Pedro Youth Club, our first project on the national roll-out, be brilliant peer mentors as well as how well all the different groups came together over football
  • Meeting so many amazing, tenacious and energetic youth workers and seeing them get excited about VIY
  • BIG VIY Day at Victoria Park! 92 young people created an amazing outdoor classroom in one day. It was busy and we ate a lot of pizza
  • Seeing two brand new youth clubs created because of VIY at Adelina Grove in Whitechapel and Garw Boys’ & Girls’ Club near Bridgend in Wales
  • I travelled over 10,000 miles by train over the past year! And I learnt to always have a spare jumper, good book and plenty of snacks. I now have detailed knowledge of the UK train network

Such a brilliant year! Thanks VIY! 

Miranda’s VIY Journey:

I joined the VIY team in September 2013. I was keen to join a national project and work with a large variety of youth clubs.

On my second day of work, I was whisked off to Swansea for an induction with Talking Hands.  Led by Rachael, the induction gave me a sense of how VIY worked and how the London Youth team and the youth club work together.

After that day, I led countless inductions to clubs and organisations around the country – from boxing clubs to youth clubs, from YMCAs to adventure playgrounds. 

A very enjoyable part of my job was meeting the hard-working, incredibly positive, full of energy youth workers!  John, from Burnley’s Boys and Girls Club, hosted our launch event in Lancashire. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who was so proud of what his young people had achieved doing VIY. He spoke of their dedication, their energy and their real desire to improve their club, make it look better and feel a sense of responsibility over the space.  His adult son was equally as passionate about the club, having joined the club at five years of age.  

Tam, from St. George’s Community Centre, managed a one-day VIY project for her young people. Her energy and authentic desire to see her young people improve just blew me away. I’ve never heard someone speak of their job with so much passion and genuine care.  In the hour and half I spent with Tam, I got a real sense of the incredible work that Tam puts in every day to get the best possible opportunities for her young people.  She was fully aware of the cuts and the increasing lack of funds in the youth sector, but that didn’t seem to deter her in the slightest.

What I’ve learned is that VIY is all about the people.  Whether it is the club leaders, the young people, the trades mentors or the assessors, VIY couldn’t be what it was without dedicated people who believed in improving young people. 

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