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Cementing community relationships in North Shields

Date published: 20 June 2024

Read time: 3 minutes

Two men stood smiling beside a kitchen stove as one of the men stirs some food in a saucepan.

A £4,834 grant from the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation is being used by YMCA North Tyneside to help teenage asylum seekers escaping conflict rebuild their lives in North Shields.

For over five years now, we’ve had a close relationship with YMCA North Tyneside. Through a mixture of colleague volunteering, community grants, and now moving our North Shields branch into their community building, we’re helping to deliver their vital work and support some of the most vulnerable young people in our region.

We first awarded the North Shields-based charity a grant back in 2018, to replace the surface of their nursery playground to keep young children safe from any accidents. Since then, we awarded another grant in 2021 to help YMCA North Tyneside deliver employability support to the young people living in their onsite supported accommodation.

Our colleagues have also regularly volunteered their time and skills to various YMCA projects over the years, including volunteering at their onsite café, helping to deliver community meals, gardening at their allotment, and fundraising.

A group of people out in the countryside with some hills in the background.

Our Property Services team recently visited YMCA North Tyneside’s Patterdale estate in the Lake District to help with some estate management and groundwork.

Building on our longstanding relationship with YMCA North Tyneside, earlier this year we announced our plans to open a brand new, unique branch inside their vibrant community building.

The new branch will see us move our existing North Shields branch around the corner into the YMCA’s building on Church Way, where we will share space with their gym, café, supported accommodation, as well as their popular day nursery across the road.

Take a look at our new North Shields branch

As well as continuing to offer our full range of products and services, the new branch will have new community spaces, private meeting rooms, and our usual welcoming branch atmosphere. Design: Grace Choi Architecture. Video: NVision Studios.

North Shields will be our fifth community partnership branch, following the success of our community partnership branch model in Wooler, Hawes, Yarm, and Knaresborough, and is set to open later this year. We will be supporting our customers to make the move with us.

As part of our investment into YMCA North Tyneside and the wider North Shields community, we recently awarded a third community grant to the charity.

This latest grant was used to help fund the salary of a support worker dedicated to helping young asylum seekers fleeing conflict adjust to life in North Shields, settle in, and become contributing members of society.

YMCA North Tyneside has supported over 20 asylum seekers since the project began in 2022, with more teenage asylum seekers in the wider North Tyneside and Northumberland areas interested in getting involved as word spreads about the programme.

Three people stood beside a kitchen stove, smiling, as one man sautés chicken pieces in a frying pan.

Peshawa Aso Hussain, 18, from Iran is part of YMCA North Tyneside’s resettlement programme.

“Since joining the YMCA North Tyneside’s project for asylum seekers I have developed new friendships, my English has improved and I feel like a valued member of the local community. I am so grateful for the support of the staff who have given me the opportunity to create a new life for myself in North Shields.”

The grant to YMCA North Tyneside is just the latest in a long-standing relationship with the charity.

Dean Titterton, chief executive at YMCA North Tyneside, said: “The programme for young asylum seekers is helping to break down barriers and better integrate our displaced young people into the community.

“We’re experiencing high levels of engagement in many of the activities led by our support workers, and feedback from our teenagers has been overwhelmingly positive, with asylum seekers from other parts of the North East also keen to participate in the programme.

“Several of our young people have now been granted ‘leave to remain’ in the UK, and we’ll continue to support them through to adulthood when they may decide to relocate to other parts of the country to be closer to family, or to pursue careers.

“Without funding from Newcastle Building Society we would struggle to continue to deliver this vital project which is transforming the lives of some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”

Download the press release (PDF, 197kB).

Image caption: Peshawa, one of the young people receiving support from the YMCA North Tyneside, with our North Shields Branch Manager, Conor King.

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