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Dulux scores with youth training help

For children and young people in Hunslet in Leeds, the Hunslet Green Community Sports Club has played a vital role in bringing people together and helping them stay active for more than 25 years, through the power of rugby league.

And over the past few weeks, more than 60 young people in the area have been learning new skills and gaining work experience while transforming the club so it can grow and offer more opportunities to young and female players, as well as people with disabilities.

With funding from Sport England and the Rugby League World Cup, the club has been able to undertake a major refurbishment to make it more accessible and inclusive, which includes the conversion of disused storage room into female changing rooms and the installation of a new kitchen.

The work was carried out by Volunteer It Yourself (VIY), an organisation that gives young people the chance to learn and apply vocational trade skills by volunteering to help fix local facilities in need of essential repairs and improvements.

Rebecca Marchant signed up to become a mentor with VIY to share her 20+ years of skill and experience as a decorator with students wishing to go into the building trade. 

“The volunteers on the project were young people from all different walks of life,” Rebecca explains.

“We had refugees, we had some of the junior rugby team who wanted to do plumbing and we had students with varying levels of learning and sensory disabilities working at Hunslet Green too.

“Towards the end of this project, students from Leeds Building College, who were working towards their City and Guilds qualifications, came to improve their joinery skills by making picnic benches and some worked with me on the painting side improving their application and cutting in skills.”

A total of 60 young people took part in transforming the club and 123 City and Guilds accreditations were earned by volunteers.

As well as teaching the students technical skills, the scheme also helped many of the volunteers develop confidence in their abilities.

Rebecca adds,“Some of the students were quite shy and introverted so as well as teaching them new skills in painting, I needed to learn from them how to go at a pace that worked for them too.”

The project is being supported by Dulux’s Let’s Colour initiative, which uses the power of colour and paint to transform lives by helping to make community spaces brighter and more welcoming.

Through its partnership with VIY, Dulux is ensuring the project is finished to a high standard by supplying the paint needed to carry out the project, while helping to create opportunities for local at-risk young people to learn valuable decorating skills.

The work undertaken by VIY will enable the club, run solely by volunteers, to boost its revenues and reach more members in one of the most deprived parts of Leeds.

Pat Benatmane, the club’s Volunteer Secretary, says: “Kids can come from anywhere in the local area. We’re keeping them off the streets, we’re getting them used to teamwork and helping them make new friends.”

The club, home to the Hunslet Warriors rugby league team, has more than 1,500 members on its books. As well as providing training facilities, it has a bar and a function space, which is used by a church group every Sunday.

“We needed a downstairs kitchen for wheelchair access and some of the players are in their 60s and can’t get up the stairs,” Pat says.

“Once the girls reach 12, they have to play in separate teams from boys, and we’re also getting a lot more female referees and touch judges, so we wanted a separate changing room for females.”

The revamp also includes a new physio room, while the new kitchen will be fitted with an outdoor hatch to help boost their revenue on match days by allowing the club to provide hot food for spectators.

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