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VIY combines volunteering and DIY by identifying local tradespeople to mentor young people aged 14-24 in building and construction skills, whilst fixing up local youth clubs and community buildings. Young people who successfully complete the programme are awarded City & Guilds vocational accreditations and increase their employability skills. They are also able to access to further training, work placements and apprenticeship opportunities with local employers beyond the project.

The programme is run by VIY in collaboration with project partners Wickes, the home improvement retailer (who supply all building materials free of charge) and City & Guilds (who provide the vocational accreditation).

What CSAIF funded:VIY was awarded £409,327 to scale up its work, creating new partnerships with youth organisations and businesses across the country, as well as establish a new independent CIC to take forward the work as a sustainable social venture.  They were funded to reach a further 1000 young people, supported by 135 tradespeople. 

VIY was awarded £30,000 for their impact evaluation.

About the evaluation

Level on Standards: Level 2 - they capture data that shows positive change, but they cannot confirm you caused this.

Evaluator: Belmana

Aim: VIY’s evaluation aims to assess how effective VIY is at developing young people’s technical and softer employability skills through carrying out essential repairs on local youth clubs and community centre buildings.

Key findings:

  1. Participants indicate that they have a greater mastery of employability skills (e.g. explaining/volunteering ideas; leadership qualities)

  2. Participants report knowing how to handle interviews better.

Participants believe that they have strengthened their CV’s. VIY is not primarily a direct employment programme supporting people into work, nor are many of its participants at the right age or educational stage to be looking for a job. However, in a small number of cases and where relevant, VIY has helped participants get jobs. Especially the new hub model has shown a higher level of impact on employment than the historical VIY model.

Methodology: The evaluation undertook an initial literature review of employability interventions, to provide context to VIY’s research.  This was followed by five case studies, including interviews with participants and others engaged with the project. Finally, data was collected from participants concerning their self-assessment of their performance on a range of “employability” factors (e.g. interview skills, leadership qualities etc.). This data was collected at the start and end of the programme, as well as a further six weeks to three months follow-up survey.

VIY supported 513  total young people during the evaluation period. 271 individuals were sampled for the evaluation. The post-intervention survey attained 199 responses, with the follow-up recording 97 returns.   

Why is this a Level 2 evaluation?

With support from Belmana, VIY have delivered an evaluation that suggests a positive change over time for the young people that it supports, using appropriate tools and with comparatively low levels of attrition (albeit higher at the final follow-up point).

About the evidence journey

Progress: Through this evaluation VIY have moved from Level 1 to Level 2 on the Nesta Standards of Evidence, reflecting the fact that they are now able to more robustly show a positive change in outcome. The next step on the Standards would be to include a robust comparison group of some kind, to be more confident that the positive change seen is due to the programme itself (rather than other factors).

Lessons learned: Data management is time consuming and a solid process for data management is essential. VIY must ensure access, at all times, to project data collected on our behalf by training providers, and to regularly check up on the quality and quantity of this data.

Next steps: VIY will purchase a CRM to better enable data collection and analysis as the work scales. Data collection is now embedded in our processes, but this will continue to be monitored.

VIY will continue to work with Belmana for the next stages of evaluation development.  This includes a  plan to use control groups and using comparison data from the national pupil database for a new phase of work that focuses on supporting young people who are in school. .