VIY Challenge refurbishes community spaces across London

Monday 30th September 2013

VIY Challenge Weekend

On 28th/29th September 2013, the VIY Challenge Weekend brought together 40 professional tradespeople and 270 young people, all of them volunteers, to renovate four community spaces across London.

The Challenge Weekend was part of the wider national VIY ‘Volunteer It Yourself’ project, created and delivered by Cospa in partnership with Wickes, City & Guilds, Big Lottery Fund, London Youth and other regional youth club networks.

VIY challenges young people to learn trade and building skills on the job by committing to repair local youth club and community centre buildings. Young people are mentored by professional tradespeople and gain vocational accreditations as well as access to further training and work experience opportunities. VIY is currently being rolled out in 47 locations in England and Wales, involving more than 1,000 young people and 200 trade skills mentors.

Activity on the Challenge Weekend focused on four sites in East and North London: a youth club, a community centre, a park and an adventure playground. The 270 young participants were drawn from Hackney, Haringey and Tower Hamlets and all of them gained a City & Guilds Entry Level 3 accreditation (one unit) in building and construction skills through their participation.

The Challenge Weekend was specifically supported by the Wickes store in Tottenham. As well as donating materials, Store Manager Raj Patel was a Lead Skills Mentor and helped coordinate the teams of participating local tradespeople, many of whom were Wickes customers.

Raj and the Tottenham store have also supported the VIY project at the Shakespeare Walk Adventure Playground (SWAPA) in Hackney which took place over six weeks in May/June earlier this year. Wickes donated all the materials and equipment needed to convert three shipping containers into clubhouse spaces and one of the young participants at SWAPA has also subsequently completed a week’s work experience at the Tottenham store. Raj also recruited employees and trade customers at the Tottenham store to volunteer as skills mentors on the SWAPA project.

Raj makes the point: “VIY is a great project which benefits young people and the wider community. It also helps Wickes stores to build customer relationships among local tradespeople as well as to motivate and inspire staff. So I see VIY as good for business as well as being good for the community and society at large.”