Newcastle West End Charity Extending Well-Being Work For Local Young People

Release Date: 19 March

A Newcastle charity's drive towards enhancing the well-being of young people in the city's west end is set to gain momentum after receiving a four-figure grant through a local branch of Newcastle Building Society.

Based in a converted terraced house in Elswick, the Northbourne Street Youth Initiative (NSYI) is a registered charity that provides a wide range of services and support for local children and young people.

The group runs seven play and youth sessions per week with activities including general drop-in sessions, issue based sessions, cooking, IT skills, homework clubs, life skills, arts and crafts and holiday provision, and also involves participants' families wherever possible.

It also offers award programmes such as the Adventure Service Challenge Award scheme, and is currently helping 44 young people work towards achieving Duke of Edinburgh's Awards.

Over the last year, NSYI has started to explore a range of issues linked to wellness among local 13-19 year-olds, and has instigated sessions including yoga, meditation and self-empowerment which are designed to enhance mental health and general well-being.

The charity has been looking at developing this side of its work through employing qualified practitioner Nicola Mantalios to deliver one wellness session every week during 2018 and setting up two residential weekend breaks that will enable participating young people to look in more detail at particular topics.

After being nominated by Margaret Martin, a customer at Newcastle Building Society's Craster Court branch in Cramlington, a £2,977 grant has been given to enable NSYI to put its West End Wellness programme plans into action, with around 40 young people expected to benefit.

The funding has been provided by the Newcastle Building Society  Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which has been set up to provide grants to charities and community groups that are located in or around the communities served by the Society's branch network. Projects are put forward for grants by Society customers.

Rachel Martin, manager at the Northbourne Street Youth Initiative, says: “Our everyday experience is that, despite all the barriers placed in their way by where they live and the deprivation they face, the vast majority of young people in our community work really hard and push themselves to be the very best they can be.

"The wellness sessions we've put on so far have been very well received, and while it can naturally take people a little while to feel fully confident trying something new like yoga or meditation, the benefits that people are getting from giving them a go are clear to all of us.  

"Participants are able to choose the sessions in which they take part, and the residential trips give us a great chance to cover a number of areas in more depth which will hopefully provide even greater benefits to our young participants.

"We wouldn't have been able to do anywhere as much as we will now without the Society's support, and we know our wellbeing programme will have a hugely positive impact on the lives of dozens of families in our community."

Margaret Martin adds: "This grant will allow the Northbourne Street Youth Initiative to make future plans and put them into practice, achieving benefits for all concerned.  It could not be done without help from such charitable organisations, and I know Northbourne young people will be very grateful.  

"I have been with Newcastle Building Society for many years now and I have always admired their interest in local charitable causes on both a large and smaller scale."

The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.  Grant applications for a maximum of £3,000 can be made in any Society branch or via the newcastle.co.uk website by customers who wish to support their local communities.

Since its launch in 2016, the Fund has contributed over £142,000 in grants to projects across the Society's North East and Cumbria heartland, and is so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 77,000 people.

Kelly Beattie, manager at Newcastle Building Society's Cramlington branch, says: “Supporting our communities is central to the Society's values, and it's fantastic that we've been able to help the NSYI extend the ways in which it supports young people in our home city."