10th Aug 2021

Joan, receiving a raffle prize during lockdown as part of the engaging support services offered by MHA Communities North Tyneside.

A North Tyneside charity has used a befriending service to encourage creativity among older people in the area. MHA Communities North Tyneside received a grant from the Pargiter Trust Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland to run a telephone befriending service which included a creative writing project.

Members were given the opportunity to write poems, short stories and reminiscences from their life, which were subsequently shared in a collection titled ‘Tomorrow will be a good Covid 19 day’. 

The grant of £5,000 contributed to the employment of two community co-ordinators between November 2020 and January 2021. The co-ordinators became a trusted lifeline to over 130 members, maintaining regular contact, linking them to other services and the local hub in North Tyneside. 

Sue Martin, Programme Advisor at the Community Foundation explained about the impact the Co-ordinators made: 

“Being able to retain staff who could maintain contact with older people during the pandemic was vitally important for the mental health of those living alone or with partners who needed care. This grant gave the workers extra time to encourage the members to write creatively and share the results, which greatly enhanced a sense of connection when they could not meet.” 

Members have been vocal with how important the calls have been with one saying “…it makes me feel wanted and safe” and another that “…you have kept my head above water when I was at my lowest.” 

Karen Walker, Scheme Manager at MHA Communities North Tyneside said: 

“We are extremely grateful to the Pargiter Trust Fund at the Community Foundation for supporting us and helping us to make this all happen! This grant has been so important to the staff, volunteers, and our members.  

“The befriending phone calls have been so important and the creative writing project has helped members to write their stories and poems, allowing them to voice their feelings and reminisce at a time when they were lonely.” 

The grant also meant that there was a continuity of service. Now that lunch clubs and activities are being offered again, the usual services can resume with minimum disruption.  

Mike Starkey, Trustee of the Pargiter Trust was pleased that they could support the organisation through its fund at the Community Foundation: 

“The last twenty months have been extremely difficult for all areas of the community and in particular our older population. The work of MHA Communities North Tyneside has provided huge support during these difficult times and, as evidenced by the feedback received from their clients, was absolutely essential and hugely welcomed”. 

For more information about funding opportunities at the Community Foundation visit www.communityfoundation.org.uk/apply

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