Charity appeals for community support

A MORPETH youth charity is counting on community support with two appeals for funds.

The Herald revealed last week that Barnabas Safe and Sound was hoping to get a foot on the property ladder to provide housing and training for young people in crisis.

But the ambitions do not end there for the project as it also hopes to develop its youth work by providing extra space for sessions, as well as buying a people carrier or minibus to take its activities further afield.

The charity bought its own premises in 2009, taking over Wellwood House in Dark Lane, which it had been using for first floor offices, and developed buildings at the rear to make a ground floor youth hub.

However, with more young people attending sessions, and organisers wishing to develop more activities, the hub is too small.

Ideally, Barnabas would like to raise around £70,000 to expand into the area underneath its offices, but if the total proves out of reach, it could develop a smaller space above the hub.

Chief Executive Chris Menzies said: “The groups we have been working with on a Monday night have been limited as to what they can do because we have had over 15 young people down some evenings and it is just so crowded.

“Ideally we want to split things up so that we can do some activities with one group and others with another set of young people, but to do that we need more space. With smaller numbers in each group we can improve the quality of the work we do and hopefully improve the relationships we have with the young people.

“We would also like to focus on work with young women because we have got quite a lot of male focused work at the moment.

“We could either use the upstairs of the youth hub or the space under our offices, depending on how much extra funding we can get together. If we can raise as much as £70,000 we could refurbish the space underneath the offices, which is larger, but anything short of that and we will be looking at the space upstairs.”

The charity has received a welcome boost for its plans, with £10,000 given by county councillors Andrew Tebbutt and David Moore through their small schemes allowances, and the same amount pledged by the Northumberland Children’s Trust.

In addition, the Trust has awarded £5,000 per year for the next three years to contribute to running costs.

Barnabas was disappointed to be turned down for a £100,000 grant from the Social Action Fund, but Mr Menzies was heartened by the amount of community support the bid attracted.

“We were unsuccessful in getting that grant, but we had lots of support from local people, the Northumberland Children’s Trust, Sanderson Arcade and Beach Design. They all supported our application and it was great to have that community support. It is a positive sign for the future,” he said.

A building surveyor has recently been appointed to help Barnabas draw up firm plans for its expansion.

In the meantime, the organisation is embarking on a £40,000 fund-raising appeal to buy a vehicle and fund more youth activities.

The campaign was launched after Barnabas was named Morpeth Mayor Phil Taylor’s Charity of the Year, and initially the fundraising target was set as the amount needed to buy a new people carrier or minibus.

However, the charity has since revised its plans to buy a much cheaper nearly-new vehicle and use the remaining funds for youth work.

Mr Menzies said: “We are very proud to have been nominated as the Mayor’s charity this year. In response to that we wanted to think about how best we could take advantage of this support that Morpeth Town Council and the Mayor have shown us.

“We decided to create a campaign where members of the community and businesses could support us and the issue we were looking at was transport.”

The vehicle will enable Barnabas to offer more trips and outreach activities, as well as transport kit to events.

It is hoped that businesses will sponsor the project and take the opportunity to have their name advertised on the vehicle.

So far, about £5,000 has been collected towards the initiative.