When I got the call to see if I would be available to join the team for the DIY SOS Children in need special I knew this was going to be something on a whole other level of epic. I have to pinch myself sometimes that I have been lucky enough to carve myself such a creatively fulfilling career, but working with the team at DIY SOS just takes this up to a whole other level. You’ve all seen the show so you know that Nick Knowles and his band of brothers galvanise a community to pull together to create something really special for someone who has been dealt a bad hand in life, through no fault of their own. But for Children in Need The Big Build, the boys really raise the bar. In this post I introduce you to some of the faces who made this happen. The rooms reveals will be in a follow up post!
This time round DIYSOS swoops in to help The Roots Foundation Swansea who is a charity with a mission to help and support kids who are in the care system or more poignantly getting ready to leave the care system. Be that foster homes, guardianship or care homes, they are ultimately often feeling very alone in the world. My husband and I are currently going trough the gruelling adoption process so I have a very acute awareness of how harsh it is for kids who come from a very broken and damaged homes. It’s totally heart breaking to think that some kids slip through the net. They never get adopted into families and remain on the outskirts of society. I was particularly humbled to meet Emma from Roots and her amazing team. I’m just so chuffed this show gets to also shine a light on what these guys do, and make us all challenge our opinions about what we think of kids who’ve had a rough life.
So how could anybody not get behind Emma and team at Roots who were carrying out their work from a draughty scout hut. Enter the DIYSOS team and some 900 volunteers. With just 11 days to build a state of the art Community center complete with 3 live in studio flats to provide a transition for kids leaving care and going out into the big wide world alone. There was a really strong vibe amongst the team that the Swansea community were out to show these kids that they are worthy and they do matter and the wider community cares about them. My task was to bring my sense of design and colour to the project. What an ask! 350 square meters would be made up of a community space, office and four self-contained apartments to help the young adults transition into independent living.
Well of course I rose to the challenge like a Phoenix from the flames. The team at DIYSOS wanted colour so paint chart in hand I rustled up some of my most mouth-watering colour popping schemes yet. Working with the in house design team at DIYSOS we pushed the boundaries every step of the way and the designs are amongst my most accomplished yet. Not only thanks to the design team but the retailers, furniture makers, and joiners we invite on board who couldn’t have been more generous with their talents. It blows me away every time how generous people are donating their time and their products for the build. It’s completely epic what is achieved.
I had people travelling as far as Edinburgh to Swansea to help me style the rooms and finish on the last night. Working through till 5am to dress the rooms the team of volunteers didn’t let me down and stayed with me through the thick of it. I fondly remember on the final push we were just looking at the huge building, thick with builders dust, and thinking we were never going to get it clean in time, let alone dressed for the morning reveal. We threw out a tweet asking for cleaners and before we knew it this chap arrived with the most enormous industrial floor cleaner. He’d been watching X Factor at home, checked his phone and thought, ‘I can help with that’, and rocked up! We had him cleaning floors well into the small hours of the morning with the most infectious smile on his face throughout. That’s the power of DIYSOS. Always a smile and an ‘ I can help with that’ attitude in the face of adversity. It’s a wonderful insight into the true nature of the human spirit.
You can watch DIY SOS Children in Need Special at 8pm Wednesday 15th November. To donate to Children in Need here.