MEMBERS of a church youth club have been challenged to restore a luxury mini-car in a project designed not only to give them skills in vehicle maintenance, but to aid their personal development.
None of the 11 young people, aged between 13 and 16, from St Andrew’s, Dibden Purlieu, near Southampton, has any experience of car mechanics, but their task is to bring a 1999 Ford Fiesta Ghia up to MOT standard by July.
They will be helped by the owner of the mechanics training company Vehicle Inspection and Training Services, Dani Rathke, and will use car-maintenance manuals provided by the publishers Haynes, who developed the first Haynes Mechanix courses in London.
The project grew out of a visit by the director of children’s and youth ministries at St Andrew’s, Chris Kidd, to a youth charity in Islington, north London, which was running a pilot of the Mechanix course. “It is designed to appeal to young people who may not have previously had access to such training programmes,” Mr Kidd said.
“As well as giving the youth-club members a set of highly sought after Institute of the Motor Industry qualifications, it will teach them new skills and open up progression opportunities, whether that be in further learning or career development.”
The Assistant Curate of St Andrew’s, the Revd Peter Toller, said: “Many of [the young people] don’t attend mainstream schools, have special educational needs or disabilities. . . We are hoping to help them find a purpose to life, and an identity. We hope they will be able to contribute socio-economically to society, if they progress to train as professional mechanics.”
The vocational centre Totton College has promised interviews for Higher Level mechanics courses to everyone who completes the scheme; and two nearby businesses, the Esso oil refinery at Fawley, and Draper’s Tools, at Chandler’s Ford, are backing it.
The teenagers will repair the top-of-the-range Fiesta in a working garage provided by a local company, Shawfix Autos, and will learn everything from changing a wheel and bleeding brakes to carrying out MOT test procedures.
John “Jay” Haynes, the head of Haynes, said: “The programme is designed to give young people belief in themselves by providing them with a valuable skill, and the ability to apply it practically; to improve their prospects and learn life-skills.”