Tynedale: Lottery windfall sees youth project continue
Published at 07:37, Wednesday, 09 October 2013
THE future of a peer mentoring project for young people in Tynedale has been secured thanks to a £400,000 Lottery grant.
Tynedale Youth Link, a project which was first launched in 2008 by charity Children North East, is set to continue supporting 12 to 18-year-olds across the district for the next four years.
Social isolation, low confidence or self esteem and struggles for independence are all issues which face young people in rural areas, as well as those in big cities, said project coordinator, Sean Soulsby, who grew up in Corbridge.
“The project was originally launched as a pilot and secured four years of Lottery funding in 2009,” said Sean.
“But it has more than proved its worth and that’s demonstrated by this latest round of funding.
“No matter where they live, all young people can face similar issues, whether that’s lacking the confidence to form friendships or practical things like reading a bus timetable to allow them to get around for themselves.”
From an office at Tanners Yard in Hexham, Sean works to ensure the 30 or so young volunteers who work as peer supporters with young people across the county have all the training and supervision they need.
“The peer supporters we recruit have to be aged between 17 and 25 and they’re often young people who are thinking of going into careers involving work with children and young people,” explained Sean.
“They are all given a 30-hour training course through the Open College Network to ensure they are ready to work with a young person who needs support on a one to one basis.”
The latest funding, which came from the Lottery’s Reaching Communities Fund, will cover the running of the project in Tynedale and Blyth, which make up Northumberland Youth Link.
Together, Sean and the volunteer peer mentors have helped 35 teenagers in the last year alone.
“It’s really rewarding work,” said 22-year-old Rachel Robinson from Haydon Bridge, who works as a peer supporter.
With designs on a career as a counsellor psychotherapist for young people, Rachel began working with Tynedale Youth Link 18 months ago, while studying for a degree in applied social sciences, specialising in children and young people, at the University of York.
“You get to know a young person well before working with them to identify a set of goals and then helping them work through a series of steps to reach those goals,” she explained.
“It can often be helping them research their next step in life, like looking into college courses, and finding out if they could travel to them independently using public transport.
“And in the more rural areas, it can involve attending social activities with young people, like sports clubs or youth groups, and introducing them to ways of forming new friendships.”
But the young people the project was set up to support have to be willing to be helped.
“They can be referred in by a teacher, parent or they can even self-refer,” explained Sean.
“But the bottom line is, we won’t step in unless the young people themselves consent to the support.
“Sometimes the most basic of intervention is needed and a peer supporter acts as someone who will listen to problems and concerns, outside of home, school and independent of family or friends.”
A young person can receive support for up to six months with the end goal always to empower them to do things for themselves.
Sean said: “It’s a credit to the work of all the volunteers that we’ve been able to provide the evidence of the success of Youth Link to secure this funding.
“In the current climate there is a lot of pressure on organisations trying to access different pots of money.
“But we’re currently working with and making a difference for 15 young people in Tynedale alone.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about Tynedale Youth Link can contact Sean on (01434) 608414 or log on to www.children-ne.org.uk
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk
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