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A North East youth led organisation has continued to operate and run development programmes throughout Covid-19 restrictions with the help of a grant from the Port of Tyne Community Action Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.

Gateshead Youth Council is a youth focussed and led charity that enables young people to develop life skills, self-confidence and self-esteem by supporting them to design and deliver social action projects. The group had initially applied for funding in 2019 to support the delivery costs of the IMPACT course to 25 young people (11-18) over 12 months but numerous lockdowns and Covid-19 restrictions resulted in a move online and changes to the course schedule with almost twice as many young people taking part.

The grant from the Port of Tyne Community Action Fund at the Community Foundation covered the day-to-day expenses of the IMPACT course, such as travel and food costs (for the elements of the course that were able to be undertaken in person) and to support the in-person sessions that continued through the summer holidays.

The IMPACT course covers 17 key life skills as well as emotional and physical well-being, resilience, problem solving, working collaboratively, creating social change, bringing communities together, and combatting loneliness. Over 18 months and two IMPACT cohorts, the young people delivered a range of social action projects including period packs for asylum seeking young women, Christmas grocery bags, and a weekly Happiness Bulletin.

Valerie Ender, a co-ordinator at Gateshead Youth Council commented: “This funding made it possible to offer our bespoke young people’s personal development course to over 40 young people. As part of the social action element of the IMPACT course, the young people fundraised in excess of £3000 in cash and goods, over the two years. The funder was incredibly flexible with us and because of the effect of Covid on our delivery, this has been vital. Since we have gone back to in person sessions our 2021 group has completed their course and are currently updating it so we can offer it again to another group – it really feels like the gift that keeps on giving.”

Louise Tinkler, Director of Human Resources at Port of Tyne commented: “The IMPACT course lead by the Gateshead Youth Council is a very positive project and the volunteers and young people accomplished a lot during an incredibly challenging time. We are very proud to have supported the project through the Port of Tyne Community Action Fund at the Community Foundation and everyone involved should be very proud of their achievements.”

The Port of Tyne Community Action Fund was established at the Community Foundation in 2007 with three key aims: to help communities thrive; improve health and wellbeing; and supporting children and young people to thrive. Since then, almost £500,000 has been awarded to over 165 community projects along the River Tyne corridor.

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