Community garage gets young people on right track

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Unemployment is still a big problem among young people with recent statistics showing unemployment levels in Doncaster remain high - but a local social enterprise may have the answer.

Ignition Autos Community Garage, founded by forward thinking David Brazer, offers free training in a wide range of skills to young people and disadvantaged adults.

Set up in 2014, the garage has an innovative approach to teaching and supporting its trainees, by providing learning experiences in real work settings.

It also goes further and helps learners to build on their IT, administration, customer service and sales skills alongside their mechanical training. So far 13 apprentices have already gone into employment whilst others have gone into further training.

Local charity South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation (SYCF) gave Ignition Autos one of its first grant awards to enable it to continue providing support and training to apprentices.

SYCF has a long history supporting charity and community projects across South Yorkshire and has distributed £25 million in grant awards over the last 30 years to local good causes.

The Community Garage was masterminded by David and with Ezra Durand workshop manager and tutor working alongside him, the project has already come on leaps and bounds, having recently moved to a much bigger location in Marshgate, where the pair have ambitious plans for the future.

David said:“Our last premises were so small, now there are so many things we can do with this space.

“We want to open a community café, then the trainees can get more experience with customer service.

“It means we can give breakfast to some of the people that come who can’t afford to get it for themselves.”

David has a long history of supporting people into employment in Doncaster.

“He founded Citadel Associates in 2008, a not-for-profit training and employment social enterprise.

Having seen too many times how people can get trapped in a cycle of short term work and unemployment, David recognised that a new approach was needed.

“Learning in a real work setting is much more engaging and comfortable for some learners then classrooms, and it does work”, he said.

“Every time one of our trainees gets a great job or improves themselves it makes all this hard work worthwhile.”

Ezra added: “What we do isn’t just about training up mechanics, it is just as much about building self-esteem and giving people a purpose again.

“Those are the skills that help people improve their lives.

“Now we have more space for training rooms and a much bigger workshop we can support more people.”

David’s success with Ignition Autos has already been recognised, with it having won plenty of awards including CVS Training Provider of the Year 2014 and Doncaster Free Press Pride Awards 2015. David himself was also recently nominated for a social entrepreneur award.

“South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation is a grant making charity and we have been supporting community organisations all over South Yorkshire for 30 years”, said Ruth Willis, chief executive of SYCF.

“Witnessing what these groups, like Ignition Autos Community Garage, achieve every day is incredible.

“The driving force behind these projects is always an individual, like David, or a group of people.

“They see others in need and that not enough is being done to help them. So they decide to do something about it themselves.

“Being able to support these community groups and to play a part in their work is so rewarding for us.”

SYCF has awarded over 7,000 grants since it opened in 1986 and encourages local community and voluntary groups, whether they are just starting up or have been running for years, to get in touch.

“We are only able to distribute grant funding to groups like Ignition Autos thanks to the generosity of local philanthropists, who want to help create a better South Yorkshire just as much as the groups we support,” Ruth added.

David and Ezra are now busy fixing up the new building and aim to have a proper opening day as soon as it's finished.

In the meantime its business as usual with the community garage continuing to take on new trainees.

The garage is always looking for new learners to join and are in constant need of cars or car parts for trainees to work on.

This year SYCF is celebrating its 30th anniversary and will soon be launching a special anniversary fund, dedicated to helping groups tacklr the biggest issues faced by people in South Yorkshire.

Factfile:

South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation (SYCF) provides a personal service to help individuals, families and companies invest in the local communities of South Yorkshire.

Find out more by going to www.sycf.org.uk or call 0114 242 4857

Ignition Autos Community Garage not only supports young people but people who are disadvantaged, including 
ex-offenders, homeless and those with mental health issues or disabilities.

The garage is in constant need of cars or car parts for their trainees to work on. 
Get in touch by visiting Ignition Auto’s or call 01302 260433