Increasing the employability of young people in Barnet

Collaborating with VIY and The Pavilion Study Centre is our first community project on behalf of Barnet Homes

Toward the end of 2017 we were awarded the contract by Barnet Homes to look after empty properties in the Dollis Valley and West Hendon estates. Part of our commitment to Barnet Homes was to have a positive impact on the local community. The main way we achieve this is  through our guardians’ volunteering for charities and local community groups, however as a social enterprise, we are delighted also to support projects such as that undertaken by Volunteer It Yourself (VIY) this week.

Last week, ten students from a local Pupil Referral Unit, The Pavilion Study Centre, spent three days learning how to paint and decorate by practising on a flat in Dollis Valley Estate which is being managed by Dot Dot Dot. VIY delivered the project, with mentorship and assessing by RM Training and with materials supplied by their partner Wickes.

Tom Hague, Project Manager at VIY, explained how the project came together:

At VIY we’re always proud to help young people gain employability skills whilst refurbishing community buildings. And it’s particularly great to work with Dot Dot Dot for the first time on this project, knowing the great work they do getting empty buildings back into use as affordable housing for people who volunteer locally. This is all possible thanks to Wickes, our major partner, who provide materials and tools in kind. So thanks to them, Dot Dot Dot and Pavilion Study Centre for making this all happen!

Dan, one of the professional mentors from VIY, saw great progress from the young people over three days:

I really enjoy being a mentor. It gives me the opportunity to pass on my practical skills to young people who have never had the chance to give things like painting and decorating a go. These students may struggle in the classroom environment, but you see them become really engaged in out of the classroom learning. They really get stuck in and work hard, but we also have a good laugh together on the projects.

Owen and Aaron, 16, both said they really enjoyed their time working on the VIY project with Dot Dot Dot. They want to go into trades after they finish school and see the project as a good way to help them get into college.

Lesley Graham, Head of Careers at The Pavilion Study Centre, reinforced this point about the tangible outcomes for her students:

This three day project with Dot Dot Dot and VIY was perfect for our year 10s and 11s. The feedback from our students has been great and they’ve been enthusiastic about the programme. At least two of them are seriously considering a career in the trades, so this is a great step in that direction. It’s been such a success that we are actively pursuing more opportunities with both partner organisations.

Ted Maxwell, Head of Business Development & Marketing at Dot Dot Dot summarised how successful this initial project has been and looks to the future:

Ten local young people who have difficulties in mainstream education, have participated in this project. Seven of them received the City and Guilds Entry Level 3 Award in Employability Skills: Painting and Decorating. They have all learnt invaluable new skills which will improve their employability. We will be working in Barnet for several years, so we are seeing this project with VIY and The Pavilion Study Centre as a great start for our community-focused activities and something we look forward to building on.