VIY trade skills mentor receives Volunteer of the Year award at City Hall

Thursday 18th September 2014


A tradesman from London, Aitor Fernandez, has received a Volunteer of the Year award at the Team London Awards, hosted yesterday at City Hall and presented by Boris Johnson, for his role as a skills mentor on the VIY Volunteer It Yourself programme.

Aitor was named Over 25 Volunteer of the Year in the Mentoring and Coaching Category.

VIY combines DIY and volunteering by challenging young people aged 14-18 in disadvantaged inner-city areas across the UK to fix local youth clubs and community buildings in need of essential repairs.

VIY is managed and led by Cospa, and is supported by a mix of organisations, including Wickes, City & Guilds, Big Lottery Fund and London Youth. 59 VIY projects have been completed across the UK to date, involving and benfitiing more than 1,500 volunteers.

Young people on VIY are mentored on the job by local professional tradespeople like Aitor, and work towards achieving a City & Guilds building and construction skills qualification. Ultimately, VIY graduates are connected with further training and employment opportunities via the project partners.

Over the past year, Aitor has committed more than 250 volunteering hours to guiding, and sharing his skills with, 110 young people on seven separate VIY projects across five London boroughs.

Many of the young people who participate in VIY, and have been mentored by Aitor, are not in employment or training, or are under-achieving in formal, traditional education environments. Aitor’s skill has been to help these young people to develop and demonstrate broader personal skills, such as a renewed sense of self-confidence and belief, alongside the learning of specific vocational trade skills.

Line Algoed, VIY project manager at Cospa, says: “Aitor’s contribution on VIY has been exceptional and inspirational for many reasons. For example, he continues to provide ongoing support to each of the youth clubs he has worked with over the past year, even though work at these clubs has officially been completed. Also, as a fully-employed tradesperson like most of the VIY mentors, Aitor has had to juggle combining volunteering with his work commitments. ”

Aitor has recently been appointed as Lead VIY Mentor for London as the programme moves forward in 2014 and beyond.