Youngsters enjoy valuable work experience while transforming Mansfield arts venue

Youngsters have been transforming a Mansfield venue – while learning new skills.

By Jon Ball
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 8:41 pm

Community interest company Volunteer It Yourself has been supporting young people with work experience opportunities while helping regenerate community spaces across Nottinghamshire – including The Old Library on Leeming Street, Mansfield town centre.

VIY offers young people – principally those ‘disengaged or excluded from mainstream education and training, at risk of disengagement, and/or unemployed’ – opportunities to learn trade skills while helping fix local community spaces and places in need of improvement.

It has been granted £450,000 from the Community Renewal Fund, which aims to support people and communities most in need.

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Andy Abrahams, Mansfield mayor, second from right, with volunteers and tradespeople transforming The Old Library.

Since February, it has worked on six projects with Nottinghamshire Council, Vibrant Warsop Methodist Church and Cuckney Cricket Club, as well as The Old Library, a Grade II-listed building used by the Inspire Youth Arts team for community arts activities.

With help from painting and decorating students at Mansfield’s West Nottinghamshire College, The Old Library has received a makeover to its interior and community café.

Sam Holgate-Davey, Inspire Youth Arts principal arts officer, said: “It's been fantastic working with VIY and their young volunteers and mentors.

“The young people have worked extremely hard over the two weeks and done a fantastic job rejuvenating the interior, which was beginning to feel tired.”

Andy Abrahams, Mansfield mayor, talks to one of the volunteers.

Andy Abrahams, Mansfield mayor, who visited the venue, said: “As a former teacher, I know practical work experience is an invaluable part of learning.

“Working alongside local tradespeople will not only help develop their skills, but improve their confidence and inspire them to reach their full potential, hopefully leading to good quality employment.

“I’m so pleased community assets in Mansfield are benefiting from this project; it really is a win-win for all involved.”

Daniel Sherwood, a young volunteer whose ambition is to secure an apprenticeship in joinery, said: “With me doing this now, I’m working on my painting and decorating qualification, so I can get as many qualifications as I possibly can to succeed in finding an apprenticeship after this.”

The Old Library's interior has been given a makeover.

Coun Ben Bradley, Nottinghamshire Council leader and Mansfield MP, said: “Projects such as this one based at the iconic Old Library are helping give young people the work experience, confidence and job skills they need to give them a head start towards a better future.”

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Andy Abrahams, Mansfield mayor, lends a hand with some painting.
Andy Abrahams, Mansfield mayor, left, chats to one of the volunteers.