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People Profile: Tim Mills, Fusion Lifestyle

Business Development Director, Fusion

Published in Sports Management Sep Oct 2017 issue 133
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Tim Mills says Fusion has completed 12 projects with social enterprise Volunteer It Yourself over six months
Tim Mills says Fusion has completed 12 projects with social enterprise Volunteer It Yourself over six months

Leisure centres are well known for providing health and wellbeing benefits through physical exercise and a community atmosphere. But now they can also help young people to improve their vocational skills and employability.

Fusion Lifestyle, through a partnership with social enterprise Volunteer It Yourself (VIY), is refurbishing its local leisure centres with help from young people aged 14 to 19 years old who are mostly not in employment, education or training (NEET) or who are at risk of becoming NEET.

These participants of the VIY programme, supported by local professional tradespeople, commit hundreds of hours to painting, decorating and tiling the leisure centres, gaining valuable work experience while working towards achieving a City & Guild Entry Level 3 Employability Skills accreditation.

Community benefits
“We’re always aiming to improve the experience for our customers and it’s a bonus to be able to do that while also providing opportunities for young people to receive mentoring, learn trade and building skills, gain qualifications and improve their future employability,” says Tim Mills, business development director at Fusion.

“We were first introduced to VIY about 15 months ago. From our initial meeting with Tim Reading, VIY director, we realised that this was an ambitious organisation with a great mission. The outcomes they’re striving to deliver complement Fusion’s charitable objectives and enable us to provide added value in the communities that we serve.”

Fusion has completed projects with VIY at 12 different sites over the last six months, and Mills says many more are in the pipeline. Around 150 young people have been involved, with 75 per cent of them successfully achieving the City & Guilds accreditation.

The partnership, explains Mills, allows Fusion to play a meaningful role, delivering wider benefits to the communities surrounding the leisure centres.

“VIY works closely with local colleges and employment agencies to ensure that all of the young people involved in our projects are recruited from the local area around the relevant leisure facility,” he says.

“This means we’re able to reaffirm Fusion’s role as a local employer and a local provider of training and personal development opportunities.”

Sense of belonging
According to Mills, the impact the programme has on participants is clear.

“I was able to meet a number of the young people who were involved in our first project in Bedford,” he says. “Their ownership of and pride in the work they’d carried out was compelling. They’d been positively engaged by the project, had gained the benefits of training and qualifications and had developed a strong link and sense of belonging with an important local community facility.”

Considering the fact that the participants are coming to the projects with little or no past experience in trade skills, the work, says Mills, is of a very high quality.

“Of course, there have been instances where the scheme mentors have needed to provide additional guidance and input at the end of projects to make sure that everything is up to the required standard, but this has been the exception.”

To keep the volunteers fit and healthy, as well as engaged with their local centre, Fusion is offering free memberships to all participants in the programme.

“Quite a number of the young volunteers have taken up the offer of free memberships and use of our facilities. This has enabled them to further build on their sense of belonging to their centre and, of course, to increase their participation in sport and physical activity,” says Mills

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