Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd has presented social initiative Volunteer It Yourself with the latest Prime Minister’s Big Society Award. Volunteer It Yourself was chosen for its work in encouraging young people (14 to 25) to contribute to their communities while learning valuable transferable skills they can apply towards future career opportunities.
Volunteer It Yourself enables young people to gain accredited building and DIY skills by working, under the guidance of local professional tradespeople, to fix and refurbish local youth centres in need of essential repairs.
Congratulating Volunteer It Yourself on their award Prime Minister David Cameron said:
This is a fantastic example of a Big Society approach where young people learn building and trade skills while at the same time providing vital repair work and improvements to their local community centres. It is also a great example of businesses of all sizes working together to come up with a solution that has a lasting effect for everyone involved.
It is great to hear that volunteers from the Volunteer It Yourself programme have secured further training opportunities, apprenticeships and jobs as a result of taking part in this. I am also really pleased to see that it is being extended to other regions in the country.
Presenting the award Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said:
This project is impressive - it gets young people involved in refurbishing their local youth club, which clearly makes a big difference to the local community but it also gives them the opportunity to develop skills which will look great on their CV.
Accepting the award Tim Reading, Director of The Co-Sponsorship Agency, said:
”What is most rewarding is seeing the direct benefits of the programme. To date, across the first three projects sites, 49 young people have achieved a qualification, of which 30 have already progressed to further training opportunities and apprenticeships. In many ways, VIY is about encouraging young people to think afresh about practical trade skills as relevant and rewarding employment and career options.
VIY was developed by The Co-sponsorship Agency and allows cross-sector organisations to come together to contribute assets other than cash to help benefit the communities they work in. For example, Wickes donates all the tools and materials needed, as well as recruiting trade customers via its nationwide network of stores to volunteer as mentors on the project.
Notes to Editors
Volunteer it Yourself works with a number of businesses and other organisations to deliver its projects including:
- London Youth
- Pimlico Plumbers
- The Co-Sponsorship Agency
- The BIG Lottery Fund
- City & Guilds
Streatham Youth & Community Trust was the first youth club to take part in VIY, participating in the pilot project in February-April 2011.
Activities covered the repair and renovation of two separate club buildings in south London, with a core team of 43 young people committing more than 1,300 hours to the project and all achieving an entry level building and construction skills qualification.
26 of the 43 VIY graduates ultimately progressed to further trade skills training opportunities via a local vocational training centre in Brixton - while a further four secured apprenticeships with local companies as a direct result of their participation in VIY.
Membership and attendance at the two club buildings also increased with young people feeling more ownership over their club.
The success of the pilot led to the Big Lottery Fund soliciting and co-developing a plan with the project partners to extend VIY to 47 locations across the UK over two years, involving up to 2,000 young people and 200 trade skills mentors.
On the Big Society Awards:
The Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in November 2010. The aim is to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK that demonstrates the Big Society in their work or activities. In so doing, the aim is also to galvanise others to follow.
The award focuses upon three specific areas:
• Promoting social action - people being, and being encouraged to be, be more involved in their communities through giving time, money and other resources.
• Empowering communities - local people taking control of how things are done in their area and being helped to do this by local government and others.
• Opening up public services - public sector organisations and individuals demonstrating innovative ways of delivering public services and charities, social enterprises and private companies showing new ways of delivering public services.
Launching the awards, the Prime Minister said:
There are some amazing projects and remarkable voluntary work going on in towns and cities up and down the country, by all kinds of organisations from large enterprises to tiny grassroots schemes and inspirational individuals.
These awards are a chance to pay tribute to those making a valuable contribution to their community, the real champions of the Big Society, but perhaps more importantly, I hope they will motivate many others to take action, get involved and drive change in their area.
Nominations come in from the general public after which there follows a process of scoring and short-listing by officials and a further short-listing by a Panel of Ministers and independent external experts. This Panel makes recommendations to the Prime Minister who then presents the final award. Around twelve winners are decided each quarter meeting and then announced throughout the year.
More about the Big Society Awards
Forty-one winners have been announced to date. See a Read more about previous Big Society Award winners.