New scheme will teach young people construction skills

The Volunteer It Yourself (VIY) scheme, run by young people's charity London Youth and backed by a £940,000 Big Lottery Fund grant, will enable young people across England and Wales to renovate 47 youth clubs. Teens will also receive mentoring from local Wickes tradespeople and gain qualifications from City and Guilds, the UK's leading vocational education organisation.

"VIY is one of the most important and ambitious programmes we've ever been involved in at London Youth," says Rosie Ferguson, London Youth chief executive. "At a time when youth unemployment remains very high it will give clubs and young people a massive boost - and we believe it is something that other partnerships can replicate and build on, so more young people benefit."

Wickes is also supporting the programme by recruiting tradespeople through its nationwide network of stores and donating tools and materials for the project. Additionally, every participating youth club will be matched up to a local Wickes store.

"Last month, government figures revealed that the proportion of 16 to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training has risen by 8%," says Tony Holdway, Wickes brand director. "In parallel we know that although 60% of tradespeople entered the trade through being an apprentice, a staggering 82% do not currently employ one. The VIY project bridges these two problems and provides an effective solution; training apprentice-ready young people to address a specific industry need."

The scheme is launched in partnership with the Co-Sponsorship Agency, which specialises in facilitating and enhancing social action projects. "VIY is a great example of different organisations working together to achieve something significant that none of the partners could achieve alone," says director Tim Reading.

London Youth is a network of 400 community organisations serving 75,000 young people across all London boroughs. Their goal is to provide everyone growing up in and around London to have access to high quality youth work including structured, developmental activities, someone to talk to and a positive peer-group in a safe, stimulating and supportive environment.

The Big Lottery Fund, the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery. It aims to improve communities and the lives of people most in need and awards grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since June 2004, the Big Lottery Fund has awarded over £4.4bn.

For more information on London Youth and the VIY scheme, click here.

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