Bridging the skills gap

Anna Watts (finance administration officer), Tracey Stobbart (education support worker), Kelly Bird (administration volunteer) and Danielle Shin, all from the Box Youth Project, with SkillsBridge volunteer Martin Quinn.
Anna Watts (finance administration officer), Tracey Stobbart (education support worker), Kelly Bird (administration volunteer) and Danielle Shin, all from the Box Youth Project, with SkillsBridge volunteer Martin Quinn.
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A PROJECT that is offering support to the voluntary and community sector in the North East by using experts from business, has come to the aid of a youth project in Sunderland.

SkillsBridge, set up by North East Enterprise Bond (NEEB), has stepped in to help the Box Youth Project gain access to essential business administration and evaluation know-how.

From its base in Hall Farm Road, the Box Youth Project offers a place for young people to learn and develop, in a safe environment away from the streets. Its team of eight part-time staff and one full-time manager works with youngsters aged between eight and 19.

When staff found themselves in need of administrative help but with little money available, finance administration officer Anna Watts turned to SkillsBridge

Launched in June, SkillsBridge is an ambitious five-year programme to support the North East’s voluntary and community sector.

The project has financial backing from One NorthEast until the end of this month, after which it will be funded by a charitable bond.

SkillsBridge put Anna in touch with Martin Quinn, a local entrepreneur and business advisor with MDSquared LLP, who agreed to work on a range of financial and business administration issues.

Following a successful corporate career, Martin has recently been involved in setting up, operating and advising a number of small businesses and start-ups and is keen to utilise some of these skills with the voluntary sector.

In addition to helping with day to day activities, he will work with the Box Youth Project and establish a framework which will enable the team to calculate their social return on investment (SROI).

Project manager Lisa Wilson Riddell said: “We’re really grateful for Martin’s assistance and look forward to tapping into his wealth of knowledge as much as possible.

“As well as giving us immediate practical support, Martin is hoping to transfer skills to the team here so we can manage the administrative side of our project more effectively in the long term. “

The SkillsBridge team is currently matching other organisations with professional volunteers.

Businesses that would like to find out more should contact Aiden Regan on 275 5059 or email aiden@skills-bridge.org.