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Home Tradesman Insights Volunteer It Yourself: Building the next generation of tradespeople

Volunteer It Yourself: Building the next generation of tradespeople

Volunteer It Yourself (VIY) is a social enterprise which combines DIY and volunteering by challenging young people aged 14-24 to help renovate valued community spaces, whilst learning trade skills on the job.

How does it work?

VIY learners work alongside local professional tradespeople, VIY’s Trade Mentors, to renovate community spaces in need of maintenance and improvement. Places like grassroots sports clubs, live music venues, community centres and gardens, youth clubs – those spaces which need a little TLC to help them survive and thrive.

They’re backed by big grant-givers like the National Lottery Community Fund, Postcode Innovation Trust, and big names in the trade like Dulux, Toolstation and Travis Perkins.

You can read more about VIY’s work across their first decade in their 10 Year Review here.

Who do they help?

Since 2011, VIY has worked with over 14,000 young people, those unemployed, disengaged or excluded from mainstream education and training, at risk of disengagement – for whom school is not the right pathway or where there are barriers, with the aim of inspiring, upskilling and supporting them to progress back into the workforce, education or training.

The young people work towards and gain Entry Level 3 City & Guilds trade skills accreditations on free short work placements, in skills such as carpentry, painting & decorating, bricklaying, tiling, health & safety and basic plumbing. Often that first rung on the construction career ladder, a foot in the door for further training and employment, and for some, the first qualification they’ve ever earned. Just like these young people supported by Coventry Police.

Why should I be involved?

VIY attracts a range of tradespeople to work with them, both on a voluntary and paid basis. Lead Mentors like Alan have worked solely with VIY for a number of years – Alan was recently nominated for UK Construction Week’s Role Model award, for his dedication to developing the next generation just like him.

Others, like Kate and Esme support VIY on an ongoing basis – looking to develop their own skills and careers in different ways, like teaching and working with young people with special educational needs.

Then there’s others like Bill, who became VIY’s oldest mentor, still continuing to pass on his skills and experience long into retirement at 80, and Decorators like Dean and these Armstead Allies who volunteered a day of their time to give back to the community and support young people through VIY’s partnerships with Dulux and Armstead.

Meet more of VIY’s Trade Mentors here.

Looking for young talent ready for work? They’d love to hear from you if you have further training, paid work opportunities or apprenticeships that might make a great next step for these young people. Get in touch with VIY Youth Progressions Manager, Ash Pembery, via

Equally, if you’d like to get involved by lending a hand, from as little as a day of your time as a Trade Volunteer, through to paid work opportunities they may have as Trade Mentors, do get in touch with VIY Mentor Manager, Karen Lilley, at

For more on VIY’s work and to open up a conversation with the team, visit their website where you’ll find links to their social channels too.

Hannah Denny

Hannah is Communications Manager for VIY - the social enterprise helping young people learn trade skills whilst renovating community spaces. She is passionate about storytelling, delivering social impact and growing partnerships with true social purpose.

All articles by Hannah Denny

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