11th Aug 2020

Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland recently announced that the organisation has reached a major milestone in awarding over £1million in grants to 160 charitable groups and local causes across Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.   

Groups working with the elderly, disabled people, people who are homeless, people in food poverty and BAME communities across Tyne & Wear and Northumberland have been supported. One of the most recent recipients that took the total over £1million is D2 Youth Zone, who received a total of £3,000 to keep the youth centre’s support services available to young people and their families throughout the pandemic.  

Established 26 years ago on the Newbiggin Hall Estate in Newcastle to work with people aged 13 – 25 years old, the youth project specialises in supporting its service users through ‘informal education’, helping young people to learn in a safe and secure environment about work and employment, drugs and alcohol abuse, safe sex and healthy relationships, as well as other life skills such as confidence building and improving literacy.  

Angela Smith, Project Manager at D2 Youth Zone, explained that many of the service users are very vulnerable and come from disadvantaged homes, with lots of the young people and families that they work with needing the support of other services, often provided by the local authority. She said: “At D2 we aren’t like social workers, key workers or teachers who are brought into these families. Instead, we’re a constant point of stability for these young people on the Newbiggin Hall Estate, and they always invite us into their lives.  

“When the Coronavirus pandemic hit, I was hugely concerned about how we would support these young people with having to physically close the doors of the youth centre. Many of them come from difficult and deprived home lives, and rely on their friendship groups for support. With lockdown, it meant many of them were essentially trapped in the place that causes them great upset, while being unable to access the support network of friends they’d usually find solace in.  

“It forced D2 to think quickly about how we could still reach out to these young people and provide the same level of support. It meant getting more active on social media, using platforms like Facebook in innovative ways, and making sure we were getting the message out there that although the shutters of the youth centre were down, D2 most certainly wasn’t closed for business.”  

During the pandemic, D2 and its youth workers have been actively offering virtual support to its service users over social media, as well as supporting the most vulnerable in their own homes, by delivering food parcels and other care packages to those who were shielding.  

Angela continued: “We couldn’t have kept the doors to D2 virtually open without the support from Community Foundation – with all of our normal fundraising in-person events cancelled, it was a very worrying time. Instead, we’ve been able to improve our services, making it more accessible to more people, so they know that they always have a familiar face online or at the end of the phone – and hopefully back in the youth centre soon – that is there and ready to support them with the life challenges they’re facing.”  

Rob Williamson, Chief Executive of the Community Foundation, said:   

“The work of groups like D2 Youth Zone has been extraordinary during the pandemic but we know they, and others like them, work tirelessly every day regardless of crises to make our communities better. Our next task is to support as many of these groups as possible to keep going after this response stage and as we go into recovery and renewal.”  

Soon the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland will be announcing the second phase in its support of charities and local causes in light of Coronavirus. While over £1million has already been awarded from the fund, the remaining monies have been ringfenced to support charities and local causes to get back on their feet, as the country begins to ease out of lockdown and adapt to living with the virus in a ‘new normal’.  

For more information about the Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund, visit:  https://www.communityfoundation.org.uk  

To see a full list of grants awarded to charities and local community groups from the Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund, visit:  https://covidtracker.threesixtygiving.org/funder/GB-COH-02273708

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