Sunderland youth group whose funding was slashed by pandemic needs your help

A youth group which has helped change countless young people’s lives in the city is appealing for help after the pandemic caused its funding to be slashed.

Friday, 12th February 2021, 10:52 am

Evolve has been operating in Sunderland for 15 years, positively engaging young people in sports coaching, youth work, education and training opportunities.

Pre-pandemic, they worked with up to 250 young people on Friday nights from their base in Raich Carter Sports Centre.

However, with the leisure centre closed due to the pandemic and funding being diverted elsewhere, it’s left the group struggling financially.

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Evolve is based at Raich Carter Sports Centre

Manager Stuart Graham said: “We were previously funded via the council, then Back On The Map and were then successful with a Lottery application. For the past four years we have self funded with legacy funding and some small grants, with 2020 as a key period to explore more external funding.

“However, 2020 saw the arrival of Covid-19 and, as such, funders either stopped awarding grants or prioritised projects delivering a Covid response.”

He added: “Whilst we have furlough support, we still have accountancy fees etc and staffing costs of around £15,000 a year.”

Evolve has proved so successful at engaging young people in positive activity that the local police force have told staff that it’s lowered antisocial behaviour in the area significantly on Friday nights.

It’s also helped set young people on a career path, with many who’ve taken part in its apprenticeship programme going on to work at Raich Carter and other Everyone Active centres, as well as becoming volunteers at Evolve.

Stuart said: “Evolve has had a really positive impact on employment. A lot of the young people have a low level of confidence at school and previously haven’t enjoyed it, but after we’ve worked with them have had a much more positive outcome from school.

"The pandemic has certainly exacerbated things. As they can’t take part in activities, they’re at home on the XBox and eating less healthily and it all has an impact on their emotional and physical wellbeing.”

Evolve has paid up front to use the space at Raich Carter for the next two years, but the direct impact of the pandemic on its funding has led to an uncertain future.

Any sponsors who can help support Evolve are asked to email: [email protected]

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