Sunderland man's Great North Run effort for disabled and disadvantaged children

A Sunderland man aims to complete the Great North Run - and put a smile on the faces of disabled and disadvantaged yougsters

Friday, 30th August 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 30th August 2019, 1:52 pm
Josh Hardie, left, with, from left, Amber Studholme, Café Beam host, Andrew Skelton, SOS Group director, and Paula Gascoigne, Smile For Life chief executive.

Josh Hardie, 22, is running the half marathon on September 8 to raises cash for Smile For Life - a charity which aims to help young people in the region to live happier, easier and fuller lives.

Sponsored runners in the race from Newcastle to South Shields play a significant part in the charity’s annual fundraising.

Josh has autism and originally came to Smile For Life for barista training and is now a supervisor at Café Beam in Gosforth - his first paid employment.He is looking forward to his first Great North Run and very proud to be running to support Smile For Life. He said: “Smile For Life helps change lives and helped me get my first job. “I’m looking forward to the Great North Run and the people cheering us on. I’ve been doing a bit of training and I’m determined to finish. I won’t give up.”Café Beam is run by a team of young people aged between 16 and 24 with a variety of disabilities and learning difficulties, supported by trained volunteers.

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The youngsters serve customers, operate tills, handle money and gain essential food preparation skills.More than 120 young people complete their Café Beam placement each year.

Gateshead-based copy, print and scan management company, SOS Group has donated £1,000 to enable more runners to take up a place for Smile For Life.Andrew Skelton, director at SOS Group, visited Café Beam on Gosforth’s High Street - to hand over the donation.He said: “We’re hugely proud to support Smile For Life. Our donation will help off-set some of those essential Great North Run costs and help raise even further funds.Paula Gascoigne, the charity’s chief executive, said: “We’re extremely grateful for SOS Group’s support. As a small charity, the Great North Run is an absolute godsend when helping us to raise funds to support our work but it's always stretching to meet the upfront costs. We are hoping will then go on to raise in excess of £4,500.”