11 June 2021

YMCA Newcastle are pleased to announce that we have been awarded £32,500 from the Julia and Hans Rausing Youth Centre Recovery Fund. We are one of 148 youth centres across every region of England to receive a total of the £8 million Youth Centre Recovery Fund, which is intended to support young people and youth services during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Julia and Hans Rausing launched the Youth Centre Recovery Fund after seeing the need for support in the sector following the financial impact the pandemic has had on many charities. Studies from The National Youth Agency show 1 in 2 youth charities will be unable to meet operational costs within 12 months. The aim of the fund is to ensure that youth centres remain viable and are able to re-open and continue to deliver much needed services. 

This grant will be used to fund the deficit following the coronavirus pandemic in our youth centre in Newcastle’s East End, YMCA Walker Project. We have operated our youth centre in Walker for over 30 years and have supported three generations of local young people by working with them to remove the barriers that precent them from achieving their full potential. Childhood poverty in the Walker area of Newcastle is almost at 60% and the area also had the highest proportion of children who rely on free school meals. The children who we work with experience a range of disadvantages as a result of living in households below the national poverty line including: food poverty, cross-generational unemployment and poor access to affordable health and well-being services. In Walker over 50% of 11-year-olds are considered overweight or obese and less than half of school-leavers secure 5 GCSEs. These factors have a significant impact on their levels of well-being and self-belief, with many becoming trapped in cycles of disadvantage.

Our youth centre provides a holistic range of activities that effectively address these multiple disadvantages. We offer 1:1 crisis information, advice and guidance to young people experiencing crises such as homelessness, family breakdown, destitution or the consequences of risk-taking behaviours. This involves signposting to specialist organisations, providing food parcels to those in need and helping young people to navigate the bureaucracy involved in accessing statutory services. We offer a C-Card sexual health service where young people can access free contraception and STI testing, guidance and advice. Once the most significant barriers to independence have been overcome, we offer a range of activities to encourage young people to develop their skills, improve their health and increase their aspirations and self-confidence. These include: accredited personal development programmes such as the JAS and Duke of Edinburgh Awards; independent living skills workshops, such as cooking healthily on a budget and money management; social action and volunteering opportunities; sports and games; music; arts and crafts, group workshops around parenting, anti-social behaviour and substance misuse. Finally, we have a strong employability programme where young people can access information, advice and support around accessing employment and apprenticeships in both 1:1 and group-based settings. We offer Job Clubs where young people can create or improve a CV, practice taking part in mock interviews and receive employability advice.

Julia and Hans Rausing commented: “The last year has been incredibly difficult for young people,  whose education and social lives have been severely interrupted by the pandemic. Youth Centres play  a vital role in providing young people with educational, leisure and social opportunities.  

“We are delighted to be supporting charities across the country that can make a real difference in  their local communities and have a positive impact on young people’s life chances.” 

Jeff Hurst, Chief Executive Officer at YMCA Newcastle commented: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on young people that will have long lasting effects. This grant will ensure that our youth centre in Walker is there to provide the essential support local young people will need to overcome the ripples of the pandemic and lead fulfilling lives.”

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