How the Cally’s Prospex Youth Club is teaching young people automotive skills with hands-on ‘MechaniX’ project

A youth charity in Islington is repurposing a Land Rover into an off-roader for its 10th project aimed at teaching young people practical skills and building their confidence.

Members of the Prospex Youth Club, just east of the Cally, start out with no experience but after 10 weeks with the national MechaniX programme they get a crash course into the automotive industry, from mechanics to sales and tech, and work towards an Institute of the Motor Industry qualification.

So far about 50 young people aged 16 to 21 have participated in the programme since 2014.

MechaniX coordinator Paul Lawry said: "Some of the kids are switched off at school because of a wide range of issues but we try to engage them in more practical skills.

"Through this project we've managed to help some kids into better exam results, into being engaged academically and to help build their confidence."

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The MechaniX scheme is run by Haynes Publishing Group and started out as a pilot project with Prospex Youth Club, in Piper Close, five years ago.

Prospex CEO Richard Franklin, who goes by the name Beef, said: "The MechaniX course gives them a step up to become work ready and explore all their options while learning new skills."

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The young people are currently ripping apart the Land Rover and installing big bumpers and chunky tyres to turn it into an off-roader.

Once that's complete, the students will have a day to prove the concept and go off-roading.

Following that, the Land Rover will be sold and the profits will go right back into the programme to fund future classes.

Paul said building confidence in young people was the most important and satisfying part of the work.

A few of the students have enjoyed previous courses so much they've now come back to train as mentors.

After its success in Islington, MechaniX is looking to expand the scheme across the country.

It is working with the 35th Birmingham Girls Brigade to convert a Volkswagen into a coffee van, which will be used at brigade events.

Anyone who is interested in hosting a MechaniX course in their area can find out more at

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