A ‘community crew’ group set up to enable young people in North Northumberland to follow their aspirations and receive positive support and mentoring through social and purpose-driven work activities, has been given a valuable boost thanks to The Bernicia Foundation.
The Berwick Youth Project charity established the community crew pilot in May 2021 in response to young people from the town needing an outlet to reconnect and safely come together in small numbers.
However, due to its rapid popularity and rising demand, the initiative soon developed and now attracts more than 50 young people to the centre each week across two nights, coming together for fun and challenging activities in a safe environment.
The Bernicia Foundation has given the charity £10,000 to help run the community crew project which mainly attracts 12-17 year olds, as well as cover other essential (and rising) day-to-day costs at its Golden Square premises in Berwick town centre including transport and staffing.
Project Manager, John Bell, from Berwick Youth Project, explained, “We’re a bit like a young persons’ advice bureau and youth club rolled into one; a multi-faceted support network offering recreational activities, counselling, social events, training and learning opportunities, community projects and school holiday activities.
“We offer solid support and mentoring, but fun social activities too. Our ethos is to ‘do good things by others’ personally as well as in the community, and this is very much the case with those young people that come here.
“The Community Crew is like one big family with everyone engaging in activities that are of real value. At the moment, we have a parks and gardens project which includes building and painting street planters to make the local area look nice.”
Berwick Youth Project is free and confidential, and open to people aged 12-25 years old. The charity also helps those who may be experiencing difficulties, have financial or personal concerns at this time, or maybe living independently and need additional housing support.
Given Berwick also has the lowest wage-earning population across England and Wales, and many local families are now classed as ‘working poor’, charity mentors are also available to provide one-to-one guidance.
John added, “It’s essential that we keep our young people engaged, giving them a sense of purpose whilst also bringing out their individual talents. Berwick upon Tweed has a declining youth population with many being attracted to other towns and cities for work or university once they can do so.
“Therefore, for the young people growing up here, there is a very serious issue in terms of what their future will look like, where the career and work opportunities will come from, and how we maintain and retain their skills and knowledge to help the local economy.
“Those that come into our centre each week are often keen, eager to learn new skills, sociable, and full of promise. They’re great young people so the funding donation by The Bernicia Foundation is very much appreciated.”
Additionally, some that have used the centre’s services and facilities over the last 29 years have now gone onto become youth, community and social workers themselves, and still return with their own children who engage in the various clubs on offer.
Jenny Allinson, Director of Corporate Governance at The Bernicia Foundation, added, “This is a recurring theme that we hear time and time again whereby small charities of this kind are underfunded but at the very forefront of society issues, helping the next generation to be the best they can be. It is inspirational to see and hear about the work they are doing with teenagers in Berwick and the surrounding areas, so we’re delighted to be able to offer support.”
The Bernicia Foundation is a charitable trust set up by North East housing association, Bernicia Group, to help direct funds where they are most needed – supporting local people living in hard-working communities across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham and Teesside.
Two funding streams are available – the inclusion fund for voluntary/community groups, registered charities and social enterprises which awards up to £10,000, and the inspiration fund, awarding up to £1,000 for young people, aged 24 years and under, who are actively working towards personal goals.
The next round of funding opens on Wednesday 05 July 2023. For more details on the application process, please go to www.berniciafoundation.com