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One of the projects the VVU supports is Rainbow Services in Harlow, and specifically a fantastic project that helps young people gain qualifications in construction.

Young people referred to the Workshop at Rainbow Services are welcomed into a supportive and practical community-based environment. With help from volunteer mentors they learn how to build and construct using wood.

Those attending the workshop can be referred to the project by any agency working with young people, for example, the local youth offending team or senior school. Parents worried about their children can also make individual referrals.

The young people work towards the Gateway qualification Level 1 Award—Skills for Construction, covering both health and safety in construction, and carpentry hand tools qualifications.

Through a portfolio of written and practical work they:

  • Build new woodwork skills
  • Understand the importance of health and safety
  • Develop a sense of teamwork and self-worth
  • Feel that they are giving back to community
  • Build skills based on interests and manual and physical activity

Following completion of the course the young people are then signposted to further activities in the wider community which helps to prevent anti-social behaviour, disengagement from education and society, and becoming involved with gangs and violence.  The young people start to think more positively about their future opportunities and involvement in community activity.

The young people are currently making beautiful oak bat boxes that will be installed around Harlow’s parks, nature reserve and green spaces. They are then able to choose to make something bespoke to them – this could be a garden bench, a wooden toy, an ornament etc.

The young people learn how to use carpentry hand tools in a safe, non-judgemental space – and are also supported in other areas of development such as reading, writing and mental health needs, as well as personal development – confidence, self-worth and team work.

The VVU supports Rainbow Services as part of our localities workstream – understanding that there are often key moments in an individual’s life to intervene and provide support. If this intervention is targeted correctly then we can positively affect the lives of young people and their communities.