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Summer fun for city kids to become half term hangout

Date published: 2 September 2021

Read time: 3 minutes

Community Fund grant recipient, The Mercy Hub

Dozens of kids and families enjoying a summer holiday club in Newcastle’s West End are celebrating after a charity secured funding from Newcastle Building Society to do it all over again during October half term.

The Mercy Hub set up a summer holiday club which is providing a wide range of free engaging activities for local young people, with children from almost 50 families already joining in.

Activities include cooking classes and healthy eating lessons, craft sessions, sports and games, trips to local beauty spots and video and film making.

Now a £2,991 grant provided by Newcastle Building Society will enable the Mercy Hub to run the holiday club during the October half term holiday, and will also help it identify and act on any areas where families might need additional support.

The funding has been provided through the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which offers grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society's branch network.

Set up three years ago, the Mercy Hub is part of St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle and works to end suffering, loneliness and distress within the city, although it predominantly works across the West End.

It is a volunteer-led scheme and aims to help people access the support services they need, provide advice when required and offers opportunities to meet new people and learn new skills.

During the pandemic, it moved many of its support services online to ensure they were still available when needed, while also extending its work around food insecurity.

Ruth Corless, trustee of The Mercy Project working with the Mercy Hub to provide support, says: “We look to engage our young people in fun and meaningful activities which not only give them practical and useful new skills, but also develop help to their confidence and self-esteem.

“They also give families peace of mind that their children are spending their time somewhere safe and are productively occupied when, in the present circumstances, there might not be many other options available.

“This approach helps us develop positive relationships with the whole family and so identify areas of additional support that they might benefit from receiving more easily.

“It’s been amazing to see how our work has grown over the last three years and things have been going really well so far this summer, with dozens of young people taking part in a whole host of different activities.

“Receiving Newcastle Building Society’s generous support has given us the security we need to be able to plan a full programme of activities which will deliver both short and long-term benefits to everyone that we reach.”

Samantha Martlew, manager at Newcastle Building Society's West Denton branch, adds: “To help communities recover from the impact of the pandemic, we’ve focused our latest round of community grants on a wide range of initiatives which help tackle complex issues around employability, food poverty and debt. The Mercy Hub holiday club does a great job engaging families, providing them with valuable support and keeping kids entertained.

“It’s great for us to support yet another charity initiative in our home city and to be further extending the support we help to provide to local people.”

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has also contributed over £2.1m in grants and partnerships to a wide variety of charities and projects across the region, including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Prince’s Trust.

The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 151,000 people.

The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.