See inside the £100,000 mock Co-op store set to tackle knife crime and antisocial behaviour in South Tyneside

A brand new £100,000 facility for young people in South Tyneside is set to tackle antisocial behaviour and knife crime.

By Sarah Sinclair
Thursday, 01 August, 2019, 16:45

The mock-up interactive Co-op store, which opened at the Beacon Centre in South Shields on Thursday, August 1, is the first of its kind in the North East and will benefit students across South Tyneside.

The facility will offer them the opportunity to develop vital life and social skills and aims to prevent anti-social behaviour in the borough.

Young people will also be able to gain valuable work experience and learn about handling money and healthy eating.

Kelly Hudson Senior Manager Pastoral at the Beacon Centre, South Shields. Picture by Frank Reid

The store is an exact replica of a Co-op supermarket, from the products on the shelves, to the CCTV and self-service checkouts.

The education centre is the third to be opened by the Co-op Group, following sites in Sheffield and North Wales, and has been funded entirely through generous donations from North East businesses.

“It feels amazing to see it, it was just a run down classroom not being used and now we have this facility that will enable children to better themselves,” said Kelly Hudson, pastoral senior manager at the Beacon Centre.

“We’re going to do some work on knife crime and allow them to experience the other side of the counter, so they can learn how it feels when you get challenged for ID and become aggressive.”

The educational shop within the Beacon Centre, South Shields. Picture by Frank Reid

She added: “It’s going to have a massive impact, we’re opening it up to all children in South Tyneside to let them have the opportunity.”

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Les Old, format manager, with Co-op Group in the North East, who led the project, said: “We’ve seen how involved and excited [the young people] were, but when the doors open at the start of term, that’s when we will see the real benefits.

“We get feedback from the other centres from the kids absolutely love it, it’s just something different. It’s interactive and educational at the same time.”

Coun Alan Kerr, who officially opened the centre commented: “The way it’s set out is just tremendous, it looks fantastic. It’s going to be a good thing for young people to have this opportunity. It’s had so much support from so many companies, it’s absolutely wonderful.”

The educational shop within the Beacon Centre, South Shields. Picture by Frank Reid
Neaera Warren (induction and transition lead) with children at the educational shop within the Beacon Centre, South Shields. Picture by Frank Reid
Les Old from the Northeastern Co-op Group speaking at the opening of the new educational shop within the Beacon Centre, South Shields. Picture by Frank Reid
(Left to right) Simon Carroll. Les Old (both co-op group) Kelly Hudson (beacon centre) South Tyneside councillor Alan Kerr and Steven Varty (co-op group) cut the ribbon as they officially open the educational shop within the Beacon Centre, South Shields. Picture by Frank Reid
The educational shop within the Beacon Centre, South Shields. Picture by Frank Reid
Steven Varty Co-op Group project manager. Picture by Frank Reid