A MAJOR fund-raising drive will soon be getting into gear at a Morpeth youth scheme to buy its own vehicle.
Barnabas Safe and Sound, which runs youth activities from its Wellwood House base in Dark Lane, aims to raise around £40,000 to buy a people carrier.
The charity has never had its own vehicle before and currently has to pay costly hire charges for mini buses or vans, but with hopes of expanding its work to offer more youth trips and activities outside the area it believes the time has come to buy transport.
The vehicle would also be used to carry equipment to projects within the community.
Barnabas Chief Executive Chris Menzies said: “At the moment we are struggling to get young people away for activities outside of Morpeth and we have got the yurt to put up in Carlisle Park, but we struggle with the practicalities of carrying equipment to do activities in the area.
“We want to offer more activities, for example taking young people out into the hills, or developing climbing opportunities as an extension of our bouldering wall.
“We are now at the point of developing our activities further and it is essential that we have our own vehicle.
“We have never had a vehicle of our own before so we have to hire mini buses, which costs around £80 a day and puts up the cost of activities straight away. There is also the issue of availability with that, and if we want to move equipment we have to hire a man with a van or a trailer.
“Having our own vehicle would give us increased flexibility and will enable us to increase the activities we offer to young people.”
The vehicle appeal will begin in earnest next month, once the summer programme is finished, and the community will be invited to show its support by contributing funds.
It is also hoped that local businesses will get on board through sponsorship in return for advertising space on the vehicle.
“By the time we pay for putting graphics on the vehicle and getting it on the road we’re probably looking to raise about £40,000, but that obviously depends on what we buy,” said Mr Menzies.
“We want to try to get local businesses and people from the community to support it and help us raise the money for it.
“One of the ideas is to get individual graphics put over the people carrier and getting local businesses to sponsor it. It could be in the form of different jigsaw pieces to show that different parts of the community are part of it and showing their support.”
Morpeth Mayor Phil Taylor is likely to be one of the major contributors, having made Barnabas his Charity of the Year.
As well as his fund-raising efforts going towards its youth work, he is also keen to support its core project of providing supported housing for young people in need.
He said: “Having known Barnabas Safe and Sound for a number of years now, I continue to be impressed with the help and support it provides to young people who are often vulnerable and homeless, with nowhere else to go.
“I am very much looking forward to working with Barnabas throughout the year.”
The charity will be involved in a number of the Mayor’s events, including Meet The Mayor, the Mayor’s Concert and switching on the Christmas lights.
Mr Menzies said: “The mayor’s support is a fantastic boost to us and we are confident that with his help we can extend and enhance the service we provide to young people.
“The support that Barnabas receives from the local community is invaluable and we hope to see this continue over the next year.”
Barnabas is currently offering a variety of activities for different age groups to keep young people occupied during the summer holidays.
There are general climbing sessions for the bouldering wall, running Monday to Saturday, and rock climbing instruction on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings.
Also on offer is silk painting, aerosol art, street dance, stop motion animation and ramp building. Afternoon sessions are tailored for teenagers of high school age, while mornings are geared more towards a younger age group.
Mr Menzies said: “The summer programme is a packed programme.
“The bouldering wall instruction has been very popular and some arts activities are quite busy. The numbers at the youth centre for the animation sessions are also picking up.
“In general, it hasn’t been as busy as we were expecting though and we have been learning a lot about promoting our activities for young people. We put leaflets into schools in the last week of term so we will probably do that earlier next time.”
A timetable of activities is available from Barnabas and Morpeth Town Hall.
For more information visit www.barnabas-northumberland.org.uk or call Mr Menzies on 01670 514881.