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28 October 2013

29 October 2013

Tonight the Talking Hands Youth Group will host a celebration of past and current pioneering Lottery-funded “Volunteer It Yourself” (VIY) projects at the Swansea Deaf Centre. 

Talking Hands started their VIY project to renovate their centre on Tuesday 24 September and will finish on Friday 8 November having run for a total of six and half weeks. Up to 20 young people have been working with local trades people to redecorate the main hall of the converted chapel, giving it a much needed facelift that will mean the centre will be able to hire out the space and generate much needed income to support them being open to the community more often.

They have also had the opportunity to complete a plumbing workshop with their trade mentors and City & Guilds training assessor as part of their C&G Entry Level 3 accreditation in Construction skills.

The youth club will benefit massively from all the work that has been done here in the centre and will make a huge difference to the other user groups having a nice new fresh building to work and play in.

The improvements will also benefit the community where Talking Hands is based. They have one user group for young people and they are hoping the “new” smart centre will encourage others to come in and use the facilities.

The club’s Project Manager, Helen Robins -Talbot said:

“This has been a fantastic opportunity for young people to learn new skills that will be useful for them in further education employment or in the home. Deaf young people do not often have the opportunity to become involved in these skills learning activities.

"This project has shown that young people, given the right equipment, mentoring support and patience, can achieve anything and improve confidence, pride and self-esteem. I cannot thank all the people involved enough for working with us to enable the young people to have this experience. It’s been a busy, hectic but fun.”

Danielle Ryan, 27, has been involved with the club from the age of 11. She went to Doncaster College for the Deaf to train as a Chef and now works as a Chef in a local hotel. She is also the Chair of the Welsh Deaf Youth Forum (DEFO), which convenes a Talking Hands. She said:

“I think this has been great not only for qualifications but life skills. I would be confident to tackle a job at home now. I never had chance to learn before and there should be more of this in schools.”

Oliver Fitzpatrick, 20, has been a member of Talking Hands from the age of 10 and as a VIY Volunteer wanted to give something back to the club. He also recently completed his Level 2 in Youth Work. He said:

“I have really enjoyed the course and feel I have learned practical skills that I could use   every day. I would also be interested in further training to become a painter and decorator. I enjoy art and working with colour."

Highlighting the importance of funding projects such as this one, Big Lottery Fund Wales Director, John Rose, said:

“The Big Lottery Fund is delighted to be backing this brilliant scheme with a grant of close to £1m which will make a huge difference to the lives of many young people in Wales.

“It’s a very difficult time for many young people who are struggling to find work and training opportunities. Volunteer It Yourself is an innovative way to give young people meaningful work experience and the chance to gain valuable qualifications, which will bolster their chances of securing future employment."

The Volunteer It Yourself (VIY) scheme is run by young people’s charity London Youth, working with Cospa, an organisation that specialises in pulling together cross-sector partnerships, and is backed by a £940,000 Big Lottery Fund grant.

Since London Youth and project partners Wickes, Big Lottery Fund and Cospa launched the national roll-out of VIY in June 2012, young people and youth clubs across the country have benefited.  

It will see young people renovating 47 youth clubs in total across England and Wales; receiving mentoring from local Wickes trade customers and gaining qualifications from City & Guilds.

(Note: Photos in article are from past VIY projects)