ARMED with paint brushes and enthusiasm, a group of students have helped redecorate their college and been rewarded with a vocational qualification for their efforts.

The Abingdon Centre, part of Meadowbrook College, was renovated by six students last month as part of a partnership with DIY store Wickes and charity Volunteer It Yourself (VIY).

Following the project, the youngsters also gained a City & Guilds Entry Level Three Painting and Decorating qualification.

They had boosted their DIY skills at the college, which is an Alternative Provision Academy that provides full and part-time education and support to more than 150 students aged five-16.

The work included painting and redecorating classrooms and common areas at the Faringdon Road centre, helping create a refreshed space for fellow students.

The work was carried out in association with VIY, which helps young people aged 14-24 learn trade and building skills by fixing local community buildings.

Botley Road's Wickes store in Oxford donated materials required for the project free of charge, with Wickes also funding the cost of all the tradespeople and mentors on the day.

The project was designed to let the students use their new skills to benefit the college while also helping to open doors for the young people and allow them to find apprenticeships and job opportunities, thanks to their newly gained qualification.

Jessie Dobson, vocational studies and work related learning tutor at Meadowbrook College, said: “The project was a great success and our students now have bright, refreshed classrooms and social areas.

"We’re grateful to be benefitting from the project, which at the same time has also helped young people improve their employability with new skills.”

Richard Vaughan, store manager at Wickes in Oxford said: “We’re delighted that we were able to help this project by ensuring that the volunteers had all the materials and tools they needed.

"It’s great to be involved with such a worthwhile project which gets young people excited, whilst teaching them useful skills.

“The team worked hard and did a fantastic job, and are a testament to how anyone can roll up their sleeves and do some DIY to make a difference.”