AGROUP of 28 enthusiastic youngsters have become the first in Lancashire to take part in a project which has seen them renovate their community centre.
Members of Burnley Boys’ and Girls’ Club, aged from 13 to 22, have just finished five weeks’ work transforming the building they use in Barden Lane.
The Volunteer It Yourself Project (VIY) has seen the participants painting and decorating the main hall, and installing new flooring and glazing in a number of different rooms, including the old tuck shop, and the billiards room.
By taking part in 40 hours of volunteer work, guided by professional tradesmen, they have worked towards their City and Guilds Level Three in painting and decorating.
Club leader at Burnley Boys’ and Girls’ Club, John Melvin, said: “VIY is a fantastic opportunity for young people to express themselves, while learning practical trade and building skills on the job.
“When I first heard about VIY, I thought it was a brilliant idea to put something back into the community, and it’s a great way to help young people connect with older people and their local community.
“I think they did find it hard at first, but they all had a go at everything and really got stuck in. I am over the moon with the results. The club building looks fantastic. It is 50 times better than it was before.
“The project has encouraged our members to take ownership of the building, and ensure they keep it nice for the future.
“A big incentive for them is that by taking part, they had the chance to gain the City and Guilds Level Three qualification, which will help them to either get into a trade, or move on to further qualifications.
“We were really pleased to be selected as it has made a huge difference to the centre, and to the lives of the people taking part. They have gained in confidence with the support of the mentors.”
The project, which was initially piloted in 2011 in south London, but has since been extended throughout England and Wales, is funded by the Big Lottery.
Burnley Boys’ and Girls’ Club is only the second club in the North West to have been selected to run the project.
The club provides activities for young people, and aims to help them build positive relationships.
It holds open youth club sessions five nights a week, where it offers activities such as pool, table tennis, snooker, football, rounders, basketball, computer studies, a homework club, and arts and crafts.