Work to give young women in South Tyneside 'Bright Futures' gets a boost, thanks to Newcastle Building Society

Young women in South Tyneside are getting extra help towards realising more of their potential thanks to a £3,000 grant.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 1:05 pm
from left) Nicola Whalen, joint managing director of Bright Futures, Stewart Nicol, manager at Newcastle Building Society's South Shields branch, and Bright Futures project worker Ellen Donaghy

Bright Futures works with young women across the area aged between 11 and 25 to help raise their aspirations, improve their confidence and tackle barriers to progress by offering a range of community-based services.

Operating from hubs in Rekendyke and Cleadon Park, the charity worked with over 12,000 people in the community in 2020, as well as many thousands more in schools.

It has now employed a sessional worker to deliver a new employment support project to around 16 vulnerable young women, which will offer intensive and tailored support helping them gain new skills and qualifications as they work towards moving into employment.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The project funding is being 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 its branch network.

Nicola Whalen, joint managing director at Bright Futures, says: “Our area suffers from significant levels of deprivation, a situation which has been made worse by the pandemic.

“The services we provide are all designed in consultation with the young women we support to give as many of them as possible the chance to realise their potential.

“The employment support we’re offering is very much tailored to the needs of each individual – some of our service users might need help to get in a position where they can start to look for work or hold down a job, while others might want specific help with preparing a CV or completing an application form.

“We can also help with what seem like minor issues, like helping cover transport costs to get to an interview or providing appropriate items of uniform, but which in reality can stop somebody being able to take up a job opportunity.”

She added: “We want to reach as many people as possible through the new service, and to keep learning from the outcomes that are delivered through it to keep making it progressively more effective.

“The generous funding we’ve had from Newcastle Building Society is already allowing us to make good progress and will help increase the number of young women that we can help build better lives for themselves.”

Established in 2012, Bright Futures works to address around a range of issues which affect young women, including alcohol and substance misuse, sexual health and relationships, homelessness, family relationships, friendships, school, education, training, crime and antisocial behaviour.

Newcastle Building Society said has been directing its support to a range of projects tackling issues linked to employability in the first half of 2021, as part of helping its communities manage, mitigate and recover from the impacts of Covid-19.

Stewart Nicol, manager at Newcastle Building Society's Denmark Centre branch in South Shields, said: “To help our communities manage, mitigate and recover from the impacts of Covid, we’ve focused our grant-giving this year on projects linked to employability.

“The work done by the Bright Futures team has never been more important than it is today and their energy and dedication makes a huge difference to the lives of thousands of families across our community.”

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has also contributed over £2.1million 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.

Support your Gazette and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news, the latest football stories and new puzzles every day. With a digital subscription, you can see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.