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Meeting community needs in Newcastle and Gateshead

Date published: 8 February 2023

Read time: 2 minutes

Two ladies sitting outside in a garden with a cup of tea

Download the press release here

The Comfrey Project has received a grant of £3,000 from the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, to help meet the growing costs of delivering its services.

The charity works with refugees and people seeking asylum, helping them gain practical skills through cooking, gardening, and housekeeping, at its headquarters’ community garden in Gateshead, and its allotment sites in Fenham and Walkergate, Newcastle. Volunteers are also encouraged to share their own skills and build new connections within their communities, to develop their confidence and wellbeing.

In 2021, The Comfrey Project supported around 680 volunteers, with around 200 children participating in the family sessions that it runs during school holidays.

Eleni Venaki, director at the Comfrey Project, says: “The activities we offer allow our volunteers to make new connections in the community, both with the people that they’re working with and further afield, and to develop new workplace and life skills that will help them build better futures for themselves.

“We also strongly encourage them to share their own skills and knowledge with the wider group, and our experience is that the whole package we support helps participants build up there confidence and self-esteem in the face of often challenging personal and family situations.

“The need for our crisis support service hasn’t diminished with the passing of the pandemic and we’re helping more and more people navigate a growing range of difficult challenges.

“We spend a great deal of time on raising the money we need to cover our costs, so this sort of funding from Newcastle Building Society allows us to spend more time on planning and delivering the best possible services we can provide.”

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