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Young people print off a thriving business

Young people are using state of the art 3D printing techniques to create a thriving business.

Robert Russell, a participant on the Volunteer In Preparation programme, using the 3D printer
Robert Russell using the 3D printer

Based in Heath Town, Black Country Make is a design company that uses the latest 3D technology to design and print a range of items from mobile phone cases to furniture.

The business, a social enterprise, was born out of the Volunteer In Preparation programme run by Wolverhampton City Council's Youth Service.

The Volunteer In Preparation programme aims to engage hard to reach young people, primarily those who are not in education, employment or training, who are at risk of being caught up in gang culture.

Although Black Country Make is currently designing everyday items, the ambitious team are already looking to start designing the eco homes of the future and has already visited Accord Housing to take a look at eco-friendly flat packed homes.

It is also in the process of attracting funding to help the business grow, and has been shortlisted for financial support from the Big Invest - a Dragons' Den-style initiative set up by the founder of the Big Issue magazine in which finalists present their business idea to major banks.

Black Country Make features 8 young "NEET" - Not in Education, Employment, or Training - volunteers who have been through the VIP programme, including Troy Ktori, aged 23, a 3 times world martial arts champion who had previously served time in jail.

He said: "When I was younger I got involved in gangs and ended up going to prison. When I came out, I joined the VIP programme.

"If it wasn't for the Youth Service, the VIP programme and the Black Country Make, I could still be involved in the wrong activities and could have ended up back in prison - the VIP programme has shown me a way out."

He said Black Country Make would help to put Heath Town on the map, adding: "This project has changed my life and hopefully it can inspire the next generation too."

Wolverhampton City Council Youth Worker Saj Rauf said: "All young people want is a chance to design their futures and choose their direction; opportunities like this inspire them and the support mechanisms are in place to enable them to realise their dreams and go and get them."

Councillor Val Gibson, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Families, added: "The Volunteer In Preparation programme gives our young people the chance to use their time positively, and hopefully more initiatives like Black Country Make will be born from this worthwhile project.

"It shows that our young people really do not want to turn to gangs and crime - they want to work and earn their living."

3D printers are similar to standard printers - they are connected to computers and use specialist plastics that are moulded into shape by the printer.

Saj added: "They are easy to use and the sort of things that can be printed vary from key rings and phone cases to furniture - the possibilities are endless."

To find out more about Black Country Make, please contact Saj Rauf on 01902 552338.

  • released: Tuesday 13 August, 2013