Sunderland life-changing youth project lands £200,000 windfall

Some of the youngsters who regularly attend Pennywell Youth Project, pictured in exuberant mood as it celebrates its ninth anniversary.
Some of the youngsters who regularly attend Pennywell Youth Project, pictured in exuberant mood as it celebrates its ninth anniversary.
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A LIFE-CHANGING youth project has been awarded almost £200,000 in its drive to reduce antisocial behaviour on city streets.

Pennywell Youth Project, in Petersfield Road, offers young people a safe place to go on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.

By providing engaging youth provision it aims to steer young people away from under age drinking and antisocial behaviour which, in turn, leads to residents feeling safer.

Now, the project’s been awarded £199,790 to further its work thanks to National Lottery funding.

Project manager Cassandra O’Neill said youngsters would be delighted with the news.

“It’s a fantastic achievement for Pennywell Youth Project and it will secure our ability to deliver services for young people on a weekend for the next five years. They will be over the moon.”

The cash will be used to offer skills-based sessions on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, to help youngsters boost their employment skills.

There will also be the chance to earn nationally-accredited qualifications. Councillor Tom Wright, who covers the Pennywell ward, supported the project in their application for the cash.

He said: “This is fantastic news.

“These are very tough times for all groups at the minute and I know the project wants to keep providing sessions for the young people as often as they can. They work their socks off and do a lot of volunteering with older people who go to neighbouring St Thomas’ Church.”

The funding will enable the group to recruit more staff, so the group can open more often and allow the staff to take groups out on trips, alcohol and drug-awareness sessions, music classes, fund-raising, football, pool, cake and jewellery making.

Accredited training will include emergency first aid, cooking skills, personal and social development, as well as horticulture and animal care, though utilising the existing vegetable garden and chicken coops. As part of the latest round of National Lottery good cause funding, ME North East will also benefit from a cash injection of £293,712.

ME North East, based in Chester-le-Street, aims to reduce the stress and mental health issues caused by multiple sclerosis or chronic fatigue syndrome.

Those who are housebound will receive home visits and will be provided with access to services like home carers and mobility aid.

The charity’s project will also deliver its own local self-help groups, social get-togethers, craft-making activities and volunteering to encourage social interaction and reduce isolation.

Jennifer Elliot, ME North East chief executive, said: “Thanks to The Big Lottery Fund this fantastic award will provide a life-line of support to this neglected and disadvantaged group of people with ME/CFS.

“There are more than 12,000 people with ME in the North East, 25 per cent of whom are severely affected at any one time. We will help them cope with their illness, re-engage with society, make friends and become active in their community.”