Sir Tom Cowie charity saves Sunderland children’s play project

Sir Tom Cowie
Sir Tom Cowie
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A FUNDING boost from a Sunderland philanthropist’s charity has helped save a city play project.

The long-running Hendon Young People’s Project (HYPP) had been forced to stop all its play activities.

But a £16,000 grant from the Sir Tom Cowie Charitable Trust now allows the project to lay on fun for youngsters three times a week.

The entrepreneur’s widow Diana will hand over a cheque to project leaders on Friday.

HYPP was forced to stop its activities for kids after five years of Lottery funding came to an end.

The East End project, which has been running for more than 30 years, also had to make eight staff 

Now the cash injection will get the project back on track next year.

Project manager Richy Duggan said: “We received £500,000 (from the Lottery), which was one of the biggest in the region and was well-spent.

“But when it ended, we went from five sessions a week to nothing.

“We had 40 or 50 different kids each day, so that’s 250 kids where their parents and families were missing out.”

Funding was used to build an indoor soft play area for kids, offer a range of activities and pay for an outdoor activity break in Wales, giving many children their first taste of life outside of Sunderland.

“That was a big, big loss,” said Richy. “It left a massive hole as parents could not afford to take their kids anywhere else..”

Some of the staff made redundant were so dedicated they returned as volunteers.

Richy has now managed to reinstate five of them and HYPP’s doors are once again open three nights a week, and three days during half-term.

Anecdotal evidence showed crime figures dipped when HYYP was running sports and arts and crafts.

“We are trying to find funds to get back up to five days a week, because there is a need for it,” Richy said.

“We need to get back to where it was. There is a massive impact on crime figures.”

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