Mental health charity bosses warn South Shields could lose vital service which has helped thousands
A charity which has helped thousands of young people and their families with their mental health and wellbeing has warned that it is at risk of closure.
Escape Intervention Services Ltd, based at Long Row in South Shields, has issued an urgent call for cash as its Big Lottery funding is due to run out next month.
The organisation was founded in 2008 by service manager Lynne Yousef, 64, to provide a range of therapeutic interventions, including counselling, advice, guidance and support, to enable young people to reach their potential.
It is led by a team of 12 volunteer councillors, 10 professional volunteers and 20 volunteers who work alongside partner agencies.
It offers services to young people aged four to 25 and their families and helps with mental health and wellbeing issues including those affected by abuse and domestic violence.
The charity, which supports around 100 people a week, was granted a total of £950,0000 in Big Lottery funding over the last nine years to help fund activities for young people - but that funding it due to come to an end in December.
The service has applied for a series of grants - including another round of Big Lottery funding - but are yet to find out if it has been successful.
In the meantime, Lynne and her team are urgently appealing for the community to rally round and provide vital funding to help the charity to continue.
Lynne, from South Shields, said the charity will need around £100,000 a year to provide activities.
She said: “It is important more people understand that the borough might be losing a very valuable service.
“Our young people and their families are devastated and we are trying to keep things going. “We could change what we deliver, but it has been so successful that we don’t want to have to because of this.
“We do work in schools and community settings and work alongside social workers and partners in the borough.
“Big Lottery funding allowed us to provide activities for young people aged 11 to 18 to help with their confidence and self-esteem, and to reduce social isolation and anti-social behaviour.
“We are very grateful to the Big Lottery funding, but they are our main source of funding and this is about to expire in December.
“We always knew that it was going to run out this time of year and we have got lots of applications in for funding - but they are yet to be assessed.
“As we have not had word that they have been a success, we are in a dire situation.”
Lynne, a former parenting officer for the Youth Offending Service, said it was her job that led her to founding the charity as she felt she had nowhere to refer young people to.
The charity has now been operational for 10 years and thanks to the lottery funding has been able to provide activities such as residential weeks and high ropes courses for its young people.
In a bid to raise funds, last month the charity held a fundraising day and has also set up a fundraising site which can be accessed through its website: www.escapeintervention.org.uk
A sponsored walk is also planed on Sunday, November 25, starting out from the Stadium of Light to its South Shields base.
Forty people have already registered to take part and Lynne is hoping more will pledge their support.
Those wanting to join in the walk are asked to call the office on: 0191 4276353 to request a sponsor form.