Newcastle North’s Community Champions

Over the summer my team and I launched the Newcastle North Community Champions campaign because we were overwhelmed by all of the stories we heard of people going above and beyond during this crisis. 

The Coronavirus crisis has been a difficult and demanding time for so many, but it has also shown the very best of our community. 

From our health and care workers and support staff on the front line in the NHS and social care, to essential workers keeping services running, and community organisations and local people volunteering their time to help friends and neighbours. 

It’s been great to read all your nominations about the fantastic things people are doing to help their community. 

On behalf of Newcastle, I want to say a huge thank you to every one of you for all you are doing to help one another through this challenging time. 

 

Brunton Park Post Office 

“A hub of our community for all and unstintingly helpful, cheerful and positive during lockdown.”    

Photo: Dhaninder Farmahan

 

Louise Thompson and Emma Hills 

“As Head & Deputy Head of Simonside Primary they have been working so hard along with the governors and SLT staff to support the staff, children and parents throughout the pandemic, making difficult decisions and planning hard, delivering lunches and work around the area, checking in daily with staff and caring so much about the welfare of every one of us.” 

 

 

Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care 

“The volunteers have carried on supporting cancer patients by driving then to their chemo and radiotherapy treatments throughout this Covid19 pandemic.” 

 

Newcastle West End Food Bank 

“For continuing to feed the local community during the lockdown.” 

Responding to their nomination, the Food Bank said:

“We are a small charity and the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in new challenges and increased hardship for many people in our community.

“Our food-parcels are issued to people who struggle financially to make ends meet and afford food for their families.

“Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus we have seen more people need to use our services and we have been able to respond in their time of need.

“Our work is made possible by the commitment of our amazing volunteers and the people who provide us with food or financial donations.

“It is particularly heart-warming to know that we have received a nomination as Community Champions.”

Photo: West End Food Bank: Left to right: Dominic Bowser and Claudia Cooper, of Sound, Mind and Body; Sue Reece, LGA Foundation; Gemma Whalley, Newcastle West End Foodbank and John Reece, LGA Foundation. (David Charlton Photography)  

Key statistics:

  • In total, some 11,700 people received food-parcels in the 12 months April 19 to March 2020
  • This represents a total of 32,000 people fed from the food-parcels issued to families, couples or individuals that used our services
  • More than 40% of the people to benefit from these food parcels were children
  • It took 154 tonnes of food (value £270k) to make the food-parcels needed to feed these families
  • Between April and July 2020, our food-parcels fed 20,100 people
  • This number is up 210% on the same period last year

 

Helen Trobridge and Sarah Rodger 

“At the start of the lockdown Helen started a Facebook group called Kenton Corona help it started slowly but gained speed very quickly. From arranging food drops to the elderly and vulnerable to people offering to go shopping for those shielding dog walking swapping ideas on how to keep children occupied and educated and a leaflet drop arranged by Sarah Rodger to make residents aware of who they are and what they offer in support.  

“The response from Kenton residents has been remarkable to say the least and has shown grassroots community spirit during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.it would be nice for this group to receive recognition for all the hard work and time for residents in this neighbourhood.” 

Photo: Helen Trobridge

 

Katy Hogarth and Alison McGreevy

“I have met these 2 ladies while walking around by the ponds (the loop) at Westerhope. They pick up all the rubbish several times a week. I think they deserve some recognition for this as without them the place would look a mess especially around the two ponds where young people gather if the weather is good.” 

 

Kingston Park Streetwatch 

“The real community champions here are the residents of Kingston Park Streetwatch. Without their donations and support we as a team wouldn’t be able to provide as much as we do.”    

 

Keith and Linda Errington  

“Keith and Linda are two local people from the West End of Newcastle. They normally work at our community centre in Acanthus Avenue, since the Covid-19 crisis they have been volunteering helping people all over the West End of Newcastle, providing food parcels from Morrisons, helping to bring medicine to sick people, even delivering flowers to our elderly residents and their carers in care homes. They have worked non-stop for us, our whole community is grateful to them for their hard work. They really deserve some acknowledgement for their incredible work.”    

 

West Gosforth Scout Group 

“The last face to face scouting was the 12th March 2020 and this was our Beaver colony. Boys and girls aged 6-8. Within two weeks of face to face scouting being suspended our Group Scout Leader Andy Moore had got us set up on virtual meetings which we have been running ever since for all three sections. Doing this has been great for the kids and the Beavers alone have currently got 64 badges to award, including one Chief Scout Bronze Award!”    

 

Alan Potts – cycled 874 miles around the People’s Theatre, raising over £6000 

“Alan, aged 73, joined the People’s Theatre last year after the death of his wife, and says the theatre changed and probably saved his life. As we know all theatres are at great risk and we are trying very hard to ensure that Newcastle’s great 109 year old theatre will have a future; at the moment, it’s by no means certain. Alan decided to contribute by cycling the distance from Land’s End to John of Groats – round the theatre building! What a hero!”    

Alan said: “The theatre gave me so much in my dark days I needed to help them in theirs.”

 

Rosie Wood and Zara – Chapel Denton and Westerhope Covid-19 Community Aid Group

“I would like to nominate Zara and Rosie for all of the hard work they have put into the (Covid) CDW Community Aid Group we set up in response to the Covid -19 Crisis. They have been amazing and so committed showing selfless commitment and dedication and assisting the most vulnerable at their time of need. It’s been a huge task to undertake and we have many volunteers who we would like to recognise also. There have been many challenges along the way however we have set up a successful support network which works closely with Newcastle city council, YHN, Northumbria Police and many other partners.”

 

Amanda Boyce from Founders of Families 1st 4 Additional Needs 

“Amanda has the biggest heart of anyone I know. While she is one of the Founders of Families 1st 4 Additional Needs, her compassion towards others knows no bounds, she simply can’t say no. If she finds someone hungry, she feeds them. If she comes across someone in need of a warm coat, she gives them one. If she can’t help, she’ll try her damnedest to find someone who can help you. She’s concerned about the welfare of the whole family and not just the person in difficulty. She has health conditions and children with ASD but despite this, she is there in a flash if someone needs help, she always puts herself last. She is providing a food hub for the community and greater region. Post covid she will be opening the community centre to the community again with activities and support groups, something for seniors as well as toddlers, she never stops.”    

Photos: Amanda with charity trustee, Kelly Wombwell; Amanda with Alex and his dad, Richard.

 

Beccy Owen’s Pop-Up Choirs 

“Beccy was quick on the uptake with the ‘Zoom choir’ phenomenon, so at the beginning of lockdown provided an online space for people to come together, and relieve the stress and anxiety through singing (it’s a massive endorphin release), allowing us to still spend time with our local community but also widening it out to allow to people sing ‘together’ from all over the world. The mental health support that Beccy, a woman wise beyond her years, has provided through the format of her ‘Couch Choirs’ has been substantial. We hope one day to be able to sing together again at Space Six, The Cumberland Arms and other local venues, but with singing in close proximity a higher risk activity than many other things (in terms of viral spread), it may still be some time.” 

 

Volunteers and staff at Mental Health Concern

“Staff at MHC have been reassigned other duties during COVID-19. They recruited volunteers and started working alongside CityLife Line. This cohort of amazing volunteers and staff, working together, have been doing weekly shopping runs, prescription collections and making befriending calls to many isolated, shielding, vulnerable and lonely people across the whole of Newcastle. They also secured funding and received donations from supermarkets to provide wellbeing boxes for those without online access so that people could receive things to keep them busy while stuck at home such as adult colouring books, puzzles and jigsaws, novels, magazines, colouring pens, pots and seeds and a bit of pampering such as a hand cream. They all deserve a big shout out and a big thank you!”

 

Lynn Bryden

“Lynn has recently retired from working at the civic centre. Since lockdown she has volunteered to shop and support vulnerable neighbours as well as two generations of her own family. She has also been pivotal in the knitting campaign to dress our trees on Hollywood Avenue with reminders of the 20 mph speed limit. We now have 13 trees completed ( though one had our knitting removed mysteriously in the middle of the night!). She is so kind and friendly and deserves to be recognised.”

 

Chris Mann

“Chris is a Trustee and club secretary at Red House Farm JFC based in Gosforth. He works full time as a mentor for the charity Edge North East. When lockdown came about Chris organised it so that the clubhouse at Red House Farm JFC could be used as a food distribution centre and received food donations from Fare Share and along with staff members from Edge North East and local community volunteers they have and continue to create and deliver food parcels to those in the area who are shielding or struggling financially.”

 

Northeast Sewing for the Frontline

“Northeast Sewing for the Frontline has been awesome creating a community of sewers, taking orders and distributing wash bags, scrubs, gowns and hats across the North East to NHS sites and care homes etc.”

 

Jos Forester-Melville

“Jos works for the charity Equal Arts and during lockdown has developed the ‘Singing Hinnies’ project, which has brought songs and groceries to vulnerable and isolated older people across the North East, but particularly within the Throckley area, where Jos lives. She has often been accompanied by her youngest daughter Lila, who has helped make sandwiches for the older people and the whole project has brought care, support and entertainment to many older residents, at a time when the days have seemed especially long and potentially lonely.”

See also – ‘The Singing Hinnies’ tour care homes, visiting older people and brightening dark days

Singing for the street with Tommy

More to follow…