A North Tyneside charity is extending a project that gives local young people in supported accommodation a chance to start building happy and successful lives thanks to a four-figure grant from the North East’s biggest building society.
YMCA North Tyneside runs a supported accommodation and employability programme for young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness which is currently aimed at people aged 18 and above.
The charity has recently seen an increase in referrals to its supported housing service for 16 and 17-year-olds who have little or no educational qualifications or work experience.
The funding criteria for its existing project don’t cover this age group, but now, thanks to a £4,778 grant from Newcastle Building Society, the charity has been able to make the same help available to younger service users – and it is now expecting to be able to support dozens of 16 and 17-year-olds in the coming year.
The funding is being provided through the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which offers grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society's branch network.
In the first half of 2021, the Society is directing its support to a range of projects tackling issues linked to employability, as part of helping its communities manage, mitigate and recover from the impacts of Covid-19.
YMCA North Tyneside’s employability programme covers a wide range of workplace and personal skills that they might not have previously been able to develop due to family or personal circumstances.
It covers topics from preparing a CV, understanding appropriate workplace behaviours and interview preparation through to developing an understanding of timekeeping, reliability and professional conduct.
The charity also supports its service users in gaining qualifications or workplace-based experiences which will help them into employment and enable them to stand on their own two feet.
Nicola Hudspith, Head of Housing and Safeguarding at YMCA North Tyneside, says: “The young people we work with have a range of different and complex needs and have often come from households where many of the life skills and knowledge that most of us take for granted simply haven’t been evident.
“Our aim is to first of all get them to a place of stability where they’re able to accept the help that we can offer, and to then find specific ways in which tailored support can make a difference to their short and long-term prospects.
“Our experience is that our service users enjoy the structure, responsibilities and purpose that the opportunities we provide offer them.
“We see a huge difference in their levels of self-confidence and self-esteem, which is crucial if they’re going to make the progress that they and we are looking for, and perhaps for the first time, they feel able to walk with their heads held high.
“We know that demand is rising among 16 and 17-year-olds for the support that we provide, but up to now, we’ve not had the funding available to meet this need, and we simply wouldn’t have been able to extend our service into this age bracket without the generous support we’ve had from Newcastle Building Society.”
Sarah Lawrence, Manager at Newcastle Building Society's Bedford Street branch in North Shields, adds: “Making your way in the world can be hard enough without all the extra barriers that these young people are facing.
“YMCA North Tyneside does a tremendous job in giving dozens of local young people a better chance of succeeding in life, which benefits both them and the wider community, and we’re very glad to be helping them now do even more.”
Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has also contributed over £2.1m in grants and partnerships to a wide variety of charities and projects across the region, including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Prince’s Trust.
The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 151,000 people.
The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.