Foundation funding supports young people's counselling service in South Tyneside

A South Tyneside young people’s counselling and support services charity is calling for help to fund ongoing operational costs after a challenging year aiding more than 300 families and children facing difficulties.

South Shields-based, Escape Intervention Services, is seeing rising demand for its services post-lockdown from young people aged from 4 to 25 years living locally. Many are suffering from anxiety and mental ill health, are experiencing abuse including sexual, domestic and online bullying, need social support to help find a job or develop new skills, receive play therapy and 1-2-1 counselling, or are looking for a mentor outside of their family unit to overcome personal issues or trauma.

The charity recently received £9,000 from The Bernicia Foundation, a charitable trust set up by Bernicia housing association to provide North East community projects, charities and individuals looking to achieve personal goals with funding.

This much-needed donation has been integral for staff and volunteers to deliver counselling services during and post-lockdown given Lynne Yousef, who founded Escape Intervention Services 16 years ago, is seeing more and more young people reaching out for help.

She explained, “It’s a worrying situation and one that is never going to go away unless we find better ways to support and fund charities like ours who are delivering crucial support services to young people in the area. The donation from The Bernicia Foundation has been an absolute lifeline for us, especially over the last year, and has meant that we could cover overheads and staff costs at a time when many families and young people are facing huge difficulties and relying heavily on us.

“Sadly, South Tyneside is in the top 10% of most deprived communities amongst local authorities in the UK. It’s a vicious circle for young people whose families are struggling, are at a social disadvantage or have other complex needs, therefore the work and support we provide at a community and grass roots level, holistically, is crucial. It’s often a person’s only lifeline to improve their situation or receive positive mentoring.

“However, this all comes at a cost, and whilst we receive many fantastic kind gestures of equipment, toys and volunteer time, for example, which are most definitely needed and greatly received, it’s the day-to-day running costs and staff wages that are often overlooked and don’t receive external funding.

“We’re like any other business with overheads. We currently have 12 qualified counselling staff and additional seasonal volunteers who despite giving their time for free, are still an expenditure to the charity. Therefore, monetary donations like that from The Bernicia Foundation are hugely appreciated. Without the hard work of our employees and volunteers, we simply could not provide the assistance that so many people in South Tyneside need.”

One young person who has accessed the services of Escape Interventions is Saheb (15). He was introduced to the charity by Epinay Business & Enterprise School (which caters for children with special educational needs) as his autism, panic disorder and obsessive compulsive behaviour was impacting both his school and family life. Saheb has received counselling support for the past year as well as participated in outdoor activities which has helped boost his self-esteem and become more confident. He has also joined the charity’s young person’s steering group and now acts as a peer mentor supporting other vulnerable children.

He said, “I came to Escape as I was feeling angry, upset and frustrated. All of the staff have supported me. They didn’t judge me but just listened and helped.”

Escape Inventions is also seeing children of a much younger age now being referred, often due to anxiety being present at home or requiring play therapy to help develop social skills. Some are also young carers who help parents and family members while others may have experienced loss and bereavement, especially due to Covid.

Lynne added, “There is so much potential in these young people and it’s so important not to lose sight of that. By fully engaging with them, giving them the support, stability and positive mentoring they need, and guiding them through the tough times, we can help them to overcome their problems and achieve their goals.”

The Bernicia Foundation has allocated more than £465,000 in funds over the last 18 months to projects across the North East including £9,000 to Escape Interventions. Its next round of funding opens on Monday 5 July.

Kevin Haddrick of The Bernicia Foundation, said, “Lynne and Escape Interventions deliver remarkable work for South Tyneside families and young people, therefore we were delighted to be able to help in this way. It’s a fantastic organisation and we’d encourage other similar charities, volunteer community groups or individuals to apply to the Foundation for funds.”

Additionally, any company, entrepreneur or fundraiser wishing to support Escape Interventions and make a monetary donation to assist with delivery of their services should contact Lynne Yousef on t: 0191 4276353 or e: