A major refurbishment programme carried out by students has given a local amateur boxing club a new lease of life.
Thirty-eight construction students from Gateshead College teamed up with home improvement retailer Wickes and Volunteer It Yourself (VIY), a national social enterprise, to extend and refurbish the gymnasium, changing rooms and toilets at Marden Boxing Club in Cullercoats.
The work included the creation of a new changing area and installation of bathroom toilets, basins and cubicles. A partition wall and serving hatch were also removed to create a larger area to store training equipment such as running machines, cross-trainers and bicycles.
The project came about due to Gateshead College’s strong relationship with Volunteer It Yourself, which provides opportunities for 14-24 year-olds to repair and refurbish youth and community facilities while learning employability and vocational trade skills on the job. They are mentored by professional tradespeople and get the chance to work towards a nationally-recognised health and safety accreditation.
The student volunteers are enrolled on various courses at the college including carpentry, joinery, electrical installation, plumbing and brickwork. As well as learning specific technical skills on the project, they also acquired transferable skills such as the ability to work in a team, solve problems and perform under pressure.
Allen Hooker, Construction Teacher at Gateshead College said: “This project shows what we’re all about at Gateshead College. We don’t just give students the chance to achieve good qualifications, we provide fantastic opportunities for them to get valuable work experience that’ll prepare them for getting a job.
“That’s what we do, we give students the opportunity to but what they’ve learnt in the classroom into practice, build confidence and learn from experienced people who’ve been there and done it.”
The project was supported by the local Wickes store in Newcastle, which donated tools and materials for the project and covered the cost of professional tradespeople who mentored the students.
Joe McGinn, programme director from Volunteer It Yourself, said: “The volunteers all worked really hard on this project and picked up some essential skills that will help them in their chosen career and in life. We were very impressed with their strong work ethic, their competence and levels of confidence.”
Dean Preston, manager of Marsden Boxing Club, said: “Thanks to the efforts of the students, we’ve managed to improve our facilities and give existing and new members a safer, better facility to train in. Without the students’ help, and the assistance from Volunteer It Yourself and Wickes, it just wouldn’t have been possible.”