24th Feb 2021

Blue Watch peer mentors preparing food for other children (photo taken pre-Covid).

The #iwill Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland has continued to support a charity in Sunderland to run a Youth Social Action Project in their community. 

Blue Watch Youth Club (BWYC), are an advocate for youth volunteering and youth development. Based in Ryhope where almost a third of young people under 18 live in poverty, they are the only dedicated youth building in the area. 

The Youth Social Action Project engages with young people, creating an environment where they can develop their skills and put them into practice. They are actively involved in delivering services for their peers for the benefit of the wider community. 

Pete Barrett, Senior Programme Advisor at the Community Foundation emphasised the impact the project continues to make: 

“We greatly value the work of Blue Watch Youth Club, who have been champions of youth volunteering and social action, involving young people in all stages of the design and implementation of projects. BWYC recognise the need to support young people in their personal development and their value they bring to our communities.” 

The young people have been involved in a range of activities acting as both volunteers and peer mentors. These include creating and distributing activity packs to young members and preparing food for other children attending after school clubs and holiday activity sessions. BWYC have been active in engaging with the 50 young volunteers and mentors throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges this has presented, the young people have been ‘stepping up’ and supporting to keep the organisation open by delivering sessions with young people online.

Steve Rylance, Project Coordinator at Blue Watch Youth Club explained how making the younger people feel positive about themselves reaped further rewards: 

“Blue Watch have observed that when we provide children and young people opportunities to show what they can do, to learn and develop, to feel good about themselves by helping others, they have the energy, desire and ideas on how they can improve their immediate surroundings and communities.” 

The #iwill Fund supports the aims of the #iwill campaign ‐ to make involvement in social action a part of life for young people, by recognising the benefit for both young people and their communities. 

Steve acknowledged this support for them: 

The #iwill Fund has clearly understood the needs of young people and supported us to help them. The children and young people we engage are often experiencing challenges that strips away their confidence and self-esteem. They need building up. This may initially be helping to tidy up after a youth club session, but it is a start and enables the children and young people to grow in confidence, feel accepted but most importantly recognise they have something to offer that people appreciate.” 

The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to £50 million joint investment from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high quality social action opportunities. The Community Foundation serving Tyne & Wear and Northumberland is acting as a match funder and awarding grants on behalf of the #iwill Fund in Tyne & Wear and Northumberland 

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

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