COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Support Volunteers

Voluntary Action LeicesterShire is working with both Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council to build up a bank of volunteers to join us and our Voluntary and Community Sector partners in supporting Leicester people during this unprecedented time. We know that there is a lot of effort and energy going into this at the moment on a local community level, but do recognise that it’s important to work with partners to do what we can to coordinate this effort.

You will ideally be someone who enjoys working with other people you may not have met before, be keen to help in a crisis and be willing to be flexible to the continually changing situation.

What you could be doing

We don’t know for sure yet exactly what the volunteering opportunities might involve, but examples include:

  • Reaching out to people in the community and providing information and advice
  • Dog walking if people are unable to get out themselves
  • Providing a friendly phone call service to help people that may be isolated or lonely
  • Picking up shopping for those that can’t do it easily themselves
  • Posting mail

COVID-19 Update

This page is updated on a regular basis. Last updated 08/07/2020.

In light of the recent outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) across various parts of the world, and the recent UK Government’s announcement, the YES Project is taking all possible steps to ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers, participants, service users and our local communities.

At the start of lockdown, we anticipated our service delivery to change, and as such, we made the decision to stop taking referrals. This meant we have been unable to sign up any new participants to the project.

We are now at a point where we, alongside our delivery partners, feel confident with our new way of working and the quality of our service delivery; so much so, we are happy to start taking on new referrals from our stakeholders.

We do anticipate a wait time of approximately six weeks, but we will work hard to ensure this process is as fast as possible, so we can sign up participants as quickly as we can.

We will review the situation on a regular basis and update on our plans for the future. Please email us on if you have any queries or questions.

The below outlines any updates to service delivery for our participants.

Due to the outbreak of Covid-19, our service delivery has been affected. However, we, alongside our delivery partners, are doing everything we reasonably can to ensure that our participants still receive support where possible.


BYCS continue to offer careers and employability support.

The Bridge:

The Bridge continue to provide support for a range of issues especially around sleep, routine and diet, wellbeing and mental health. Next wellbeing workshop focusses on using online resources.

Highfields Community Association:

The YES Media Project is currently postponed until further notice. The team anticipate a return in August 2020.

Leicestershire Cares:

Leicestershire Cares are offering virtual employability workshops amongst other things; virtual support with CVs, cover letters and other employability documents is also available. Participants can access sessions such as cooking and dance classes, virtual workplace tours, virtual mock interviews, online workshops and other exciting things.

The Prince’s Trust:

The Prince’s Trust are offering various courses to participants virtually, including their popular Get Into’s and Get Started’s.

Soft Touch Arts:

Soft Touch Arts are holding virtual creative sessions for participants.

Voluntary Action LeicesterShire:

The VAL office is currently closed, but Keyworkers and other staff are working hard to provide support virtually or over the phone.

Lynette’s Story

Lynette found out about the YES Project directly through one of the project’s delivery partners, The Prince’s Trust. One of the programmes that was available to Lynette when she was a participant on the YES Project was The Prince’s Trust Team programme. The Team programme was an opportunity for participants to take part in a broad range of activities over a 12-week period, including a residential trip, two weeks work experience and the chance to develop her English and math’s skills.

Lynette also accessed the ‘Get Stuff Done’ drop in sessions, hosted by YES Project delivery partner, Leicestershire Cares. These sessions are ideal for participants who want to meet new like-minded people in a relaxed setting, whilst giving them the opportunity to work on things they need to do, with the support of talented on-site staff.

A crucial part to Lynette’s growth whilst on the project was the one-to-one support she received from Faye, her Keyworker. On the YES Project, each participant has a dedicated Keyworker that helps and supports them through their entire time on the project. The Keyworker plays a pivotal role in the participant’s journey, as they help guide them through the project and offer crucial one-to-one support. In Lynette’s case, she felt that this type of support was an integral part of her development.

Lynette credits her new found increase in confidence and skills with job searching to her time on the project, and was soon attending multiple job interviews. Lynette successfully completed her time on the project and found work placements in two different cafes.

Speaking of her time on the project, Lynette said:

“Being on the YES Project has helped me update my CV and helped me gain the skills I need for job searching. I have started two café work placements and have made new friends from being a participant.”

Faye, Lynette’s Keyworker said:

“Working with Lynette was a pleasure. I’m glad she found the support beneficial and I’m exceptionally happy she not only made friends, but found work placements too.” 

YES Project holds stakeholder event

We’re a catalyst when it comes to changing young people’s lives, and we recently held an event to showcase why. Held at the end of February 2020, our event showcased the project’s successes so far and the provision we, alongside our delivery partners, can offer young adults. We help young individuals reroute their future by providing them with new pathways that help them unlock their full potential. By doing this, we’re helping these individuals choose a new route to go down, one they perhaps did not know was an option before.

The event was a huge success, welcoming over 80 delegates from various organisations across Leicester and Leicestershire. It provided all those in attendance with information about what the YES Project does to support young adults in the local community, and offered a marketplace whereby delegates could speak directly to the projects delivery partners; Bangladesh Youth & Cultural Shomiti, Highfields Community Association, Leicestershire Cares, Soft Touch Arts, The Bridge and The Prince’s Trust.

To begin the programme, YES Project Data and Impact Analyst, Nancy Freeman, took delegates through the project’s performance statistics, from the project’s inception in 2016 to the end of 2019. Over this time period, the project has supported 540 young adults in total, with 160 of these finishing the project with a job, 105 moving into education or training, and a further 83 moving into formal job search.

Throughout the course of the programme, each delivery partner detailed their provision and what support they can provide the young adults that are part of the YES Project. Both Soft Touch Arts and The Prince’s Trust were accompanied by participants that had accessed their services, and they explained to the audience the incredible impact the project had on their lives. This was further supported by the marketplace; an area where delegates could speak to each delivery partner on a one-to-one basis.

Howard Cordingley, a delegate attending on behalf of Serco, said:

“I’m quite impressed and touched by some of the stories of the younger participants and the successes stories of the project as well, it’s been quite touching really. I found it very informative as well.”

We also used the event as an opportunity to introduce our latest delivery partner, Highfields Community Association (HCA). HCA, together with LEAP Studios, are now offering an eight week multimedia programme where participants can take part in both practical activities and theory based learning sessions. Training sessions include, but are not limited to, media production, video recording, video editing, camera operating techniques, sound engineering and music editing. Participants will also cover social media marketing/advertising too. The aim of this programme is to encourage and engage with those participants interested in media as a career or hobby, and show the breadth of the topic.

One clear message that came from the event is just how well the partnership of organisations works, and how together, we really are changing the lives of young adults within the local community.

Hannah’s Story

It was at Connexions that Hannah heard about the YES Project, specifically about one of the delivery partners offering a media course to participants.

Hannah felt that, although she’d recently completed a course, she wanted to build on her confidence and employability skills further, and felt that the YES Project was the ideal project to support her.

Once Hannah had been signed up to the project, she was able to access the support of many of the delivery partners, including the media course she was interested in at the beginning. Here, participants are given the chance to learn video filming and editing techniques, before working on a project to showcase their skills.

Hannah then accessed the mentoring provision available from Soft Touch Arts. This service is incredibly beneficial to participants, as each participant is paired with a mentor who is able to support them with numerous things, including outlining career goals and aspirations.

Hannah also accessed the specialist support available from The Bridge. This particular delivery partner is able to offer intensive support to each participant, but in Hannah’s case, they were able to support her with an important online application.

Whilst on the project, Hannah also accessed the support of other delivery partners, including The Prince’s Trust, Leicestershire Cares and the Youth Leadership Group (YLG). Each of these delivery partners offers something unique and different, but all geared towards employability. The Prince’s Trust offers both their ‘Get Into’ and ‘Get Started’ programmes, which give participants the chance to take up work experience or take part in new activities. Leicestershire Cares offers a variety of services, including World of Work tours, CV support and employability workshops. The YLG was beneficial to Hannah, as it gave her a chance to improve her leadership skills, as well as interact with other individuals and help shape the YES Project.

Accessing the variety of courses available on the YES Project helped Hannah improve her confidence, make new friends and also helped her feel like part of a community. Leaving the project with this new found outlook will help Hannah as she works towards her goal of finding employment.

After finishing on the YES Project, Hannah said:

“Being on the YES Project has allowed me to overcome things that I never would have done before. It has given me the courage and confidence to face difficult situations. It’s a really supportive project that allows for lots of opportunities.”

Hannah worked with different people during her time on the YES Project, but Faye, her Keyworker said:

“Working with Hannah was really good. I’m happy she was able to access so many services and really make the best use of her time on the YES Project. I wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors.”

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the participant.


Leicester projects offering free health and well-being sessions in support of World Mental Health Day

On October 10th, both projects are coming together to offer a free drop-in session, focusing on managing mental health in the workplace, and residents of Leicester and Leicestershire are invited.

Both projects want individuals to know that there are ways to deal with mental health issues within the workplace, and the drop in session will touch upon these. Whilst the sessions are not designed to tackle all issues associated with mental health, the workshop will be hosted in the hopes of showing individuals the types of support that are available. Dealing with mental health issues is not easy, and there is no need to do it alone; signposting individuals to other organisations to see what’s available is also an option.

Research suggests* that 1 in 6 people in the UK are dealing with mental health problems in the work place, and evidence suggests that as many as 12.7% of all sickness absence days are a result of low mental health. The GREAT and YES Projects have devised pragmatic approaches to coping with mental health in the workplace, and encourage people to come along if it would be of benefit to them.

The workshop will consist of free refreshments and a warm welcome to the different projects. The first session will be based on motivations and strengths, and aims to help people identify what gets them motivated, and to find strengths within themselves. A short break will follow, before going into the second taster session; claiming your confidence. Individuals will be given confidence building tips and offered a selection of different approaches to help them deal with life situations.

Vandna Gohil, Executive Manager of the GREAT Project and the YES Project, said:

“We know many people struggle with their mental health and we appreciate the hardships that come with that. What we are doing is supporting individuals and helping them see that there are ways to cope with how they’re feeling and take positive steps to feel more in control.”

This informal event is taking place at Voluntary Action LeicesterShire in Leicester town centre (9 Newarke Street, LE1 5SN), from 10:00am – 1:00pm on 10 October. Free refreshments will be provided, and there will be time for networking at the end of the session. All members of the public are welcome to attend.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental health issues, then please come along to see if support is available to you.

Both the GREAT Project and the YES Project are funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund, and are delivered by Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL); a charity dedicated to helping people change their lives for the better.


*All statistics taken from Mental Health Foundation (

Leicester based projects help nearly 1,000 residents move towards work or training, saving the DWP £300K

VAL is a charity that has been helping local people change their lives for the better since 1965, but has been delivering both the GREAT and YES Projects since 2016. Funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund, both projects exist to help promote employment, social inclusion and growth within the local community. Combined, the projects have had a huge impact on the economy, adding £1.7m through average wages. In turn, this has saved the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) £300K in benefit claims.

Since both projects inception, they have supported a combined total of 969 participants*, with 232 of these participants moving into employment after completing their time on their respective project, and a further 126 participants moving into further education.

Participants that completed either the GREAT or YES Project also saw their personal lives dramatically change for the better. A combined total of 589 participants felt an increase in their confidence levels, 582 participants reported development in their skills and 550 participants said they felt relationships at home had significantly improved.

The GREAT Project and the YES Project, along with VAL, would like to thank all delivery partners for their part in delivering both programmes. With their support, both projects have been able to successfully change the lives of many individuals from Leicester and Leicestershire.

VAL looks forward to continuing the GREAT Project and the YES Project into 2022 in partnership with local voluntary and community sector organisations.

Vandna Gohil, Executive Manager for both projects, said:

“The last three years have been highly successful for both projects and combined, they’ve made a huge impact on the local community. We now look forward to the continuation of both the GREAT Project and YES Project, and we hope to build upon the success by helping more residents of Leicester and Leicestershire.”

The GREAT Project

Simon had ongoing health issues and became unemployed as a result of this. He began to suffer from depression and anxiety, which led his GP to inform him of the GREAT Project. Simon decided to self-refer, and his attendance and commitment to the project was exceptional. He accessed a variety of courses and sessions whilst on the project, and it helped him overcome his barriers. Simon also found that he was not alone, with many other people facing similar barriers to him. Through the GREAT Project, Simon found a full time role that he enjoys and feels he can excel in.

Simon said:

“The [GREAT] Project benefitted in me in so many ways, and it obviously helped me gain the employment that I desired. I’m grateful for all the project has done, as it really did help to change my life.”

The YES Project

Lee left school with low levels of literacy and numeracy which badly affected his confidence. He first joined the YES Media programme, part of the YES Project, and this is where his confidence blossomed. He then went on to do a series of employability support programmes, as well as work experience at Seed Creativity. Lee soon felt confident enough to apply for jobs and he was quickly offered multiple interviews, resulting in a local trampoline park soon offering him a full-time role.

Lee said:

“The support I have had from the YES Project has been amazing. Getting a full-time job after a long period of unemployment is all down to the help I have received from them.”

Both projects take self-referrals and organisational referrals, and encourages those that have barriers to work and need support to contact them. Individuals can self-refer using the following contact details. Organisations are free to contact either projects in the same way.


Contact details for both projects:

The GREAT Project:

0116 257 5020


The YES Project

0116 257 4973


*All figures shown are dated from the start of the project until 30 June 2019.

Reuben’s Story

He left University and lived in Yorkshire, but after losing his job and a relationship breakdown, Reuben moved back home with his parents in Leicester.

Struggling with his mental health, Reuben would spend most of his time at home unsure of the next step. It was hard for Reuben after being independent for a long time but he didn’t feel ready for work so needed something to bridge gap and build his confidence.

Reuben heard about the Prince’s Trust YES Team Programme but while waiting for a new programme to start, he side stepped onto YES Media through Seed. With the support of his key worker and YES Media leaders; Reuben grew in confidence often taking a leadership role within the group.

Selfie of Reuben smiling

Reuben reflects on the YES Media course:

“Media wasn’t something I’d considered before, I’d done it at GCSE and had a vague interest. This course was a good fit to help me get back to where I wanted to be. It helped me re-establish a routine and being in a social setting again. It gave me a feeling of pride and a sense of accomplishment.”

While at the YES Project, Reuben attended the LGBT centre Leicester and volunteered at the youth group. After leaving the YES Project he got more involved with volunteering at the centre and secured a job managing the Youth Trans Project.

When this project came to an end, Reuben was offered a job as Community Project Officer comprising of the Adult Trans Project and Youth Service. Reuben offers support and guidance, attends school assemblies and delivers training and workshops. Since taking on this role Reuben has also worked with the YES Project to offer awareness training to staff and provided one-to-one support to other participants.

Looking to inspire others to join the YES Project, Reuben said:

“Do it! The YES Project helped me open the doors and reach my potential. The skills, tools and confidence were there but it would have taken a lot longer without the YES Project.” It’s not just myself, while on YES I saw growth in other young people too.”

Daniel’s Story

Before joining the YES Project, Daniel was at home everyday wandering where life would go. Daniel realised he needed to improve his confidence, motivation and self-worth to move forward.

Daniel reflects on how he felt before joining the YES Project, he said:

“I acknowledged that I had a lot of room to grow and I wanted to get a feeling of meaning back in to my life.”

Daniel accessed support from several delivery partners; YES Media with Seed, Warwickshire College Team Programme, World of Work Tour with Leicestershire Cares and The Bridge East Midlands.

This combination of support and programme access made Daniel more confident to leave the house and feel independent. He started to develop a routine, preventing him from falling in to a familiar slump. Daniel found the one-to-one support he received invaluable from the delivery partners he accessed and his YES key worker.

Daniel comments:

“My keyworker provided continual support that stopped me from giving up hope. In turn, I didn’t want to let her down as we’d built up a lot of trust.”

Daniel is now completing his Level 2 Maths qualification and plans to start a Further Education course in media with the goal of obtaining employment within the creative industry.

Summing up his time on the YES Project and how much he’s grown, Daniel said:

“I’ve always had a strong disbelief in myself and it’s been amazing to hear time and time again that I’m continuing to improve. I found that being in a supportive environment has helped me to retain information and face my fears.”

Over 400 local young people helped by The YES Project

The YES Project has helped over 400 young people to take steps towards employment, training and education by offering a range of courses and tailored support to meet individual needs. Working closely with its young participants, the YES Project encourages them to achieve their goals and see a brighter future.

A partnership of organisations and charities from across Leicester and Leicestershire, the YES Project is managed by Voluntary Action LeicesterShire.

One YES Project participant reflects on her time with the Project:

“I’m really proud that I got a job. I feel that I’ve pushed myself and am ready for the next chapter.”

Supporting 427 young people since its commencement in July 2016, the Project has already hit its lifetime target. To date, the YES Project has helped 128 young people to obtain employment, with a further 71 moving into further education or training.

Abdul Asghar, YES Team Manager said:

“The YES Project had been immensely successful and we’re delighted to hit our overall lifetime target. Helping over 400 young people from across Leicestershire is a great achievement, we’re delighted that so many of our participants have found employed roles since exiting the Project.”

The current YES Project continues to offer one-to one support to its current participants to the end of October 2019.

The YES Project is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.