The Byker Children and Young People’s Partnership (BCYPP) has been awarded a Development Grant of almost £50,000 by The National Lottery Community Fund to continue its work in the local community.

The BCYPP was formed through the proactive work of the Thriving Byker Strategy – a network of almost 50 organisations that work for and with young people in Byker. They have been meeting monthly for over two years to provide a joined up approach to offering activity for children and young people in Byker, and since the UK lockdown have responded quickly to meet the changing needs of the local community, including delivering food parcels and activity packs to families.

Last summer, the network delivered a programme of free activities every day throughout the six-week school holidays. Each day started with a healthy lunch and was followed by an activity including arts and crafts, dancing, horse riding, climbing, laser quest, circus skills, singing, picnics, poetry sessions, multi-sports and trips out.

Northumbria Police, who are one of the BYCPP partners, reported a reduction of 55% in youth anti-social behaviour on the Estate last year and suggested the programme largely contributed to this positive result. Neighbourhood Inspector Dan Whyte, of Northumbria Police, said, “We are really proud of the work being done with young people in Byker. All of the partners have come together in the past 12 months and significant steps have been taken to improve the lives of local residents. The young people here have demonstrated a commitment to working with us and grasped the opportunities provided to them and that will benefit them as individuals and residents in the area. I welcome this additional funding and look forward to working together with the BCYPP to continue to make positive changes in the community.

The programme was made possible by funding from The National Lottery’s Awards for All and Newcastle’s ‘Best Summer Ever’- a city-wide campaign with Newcastle City Council and Street Games. “The summer programme gave staff from the National Lottery team an opportunity to come and see our work in action.” said Jill Adamson, Director of Participation at Northern Stage, one of the BCYPP partners. “This opened up a conversation about our future aspirations and we’re delighted that it has resulted in this level of support, including the creation of a new Byker Partnership Manager role which will be vital in helping to bring people together to keep up the momentum in what is certain to be a challenging time for everyone.

The new grant will be used to develop and strengthen the partnership so that future community activity is coordinated and sustainable.

To support delivery of the summer programme, Northern Stage recruited a team of young support workers from the Byker Community as well as from across the city. This group, alongside the generous support of many volunteers, was fundamental to the success of the project. Until lockdown, the team of young people met weekly in Byker with Northern Stage’s Associate Director Louie Ingham. Louie said, “We cook together, eat together, and play games together. We work as a team on projects, and support people individually to dream their own future projects based on what they’re excited by. It’s not a traditional theatre project, it’s whatever they want, or need it to be. We provide inspiration and jumping off points, but they are in the driving seat.

The partnership works with young people of all ages, and covers a wide range of activities and interests. Foundation Futures and Kids Kabin, for example, have gained huge respect on the Byker estate, having made positive working relationships with children, young people and their families through a consistent approach to engagement. Byker Community Centre, another partner, was the hub venue for the summer activity, providing a safe space for young people and their families to meet, eat and socialise.

Chris Henwood from Foundation Futures said: “Through working together, we are more aware of what’s on offer and we can support young people to try out new things. The partnership has made that possible.”

Jill Haley, Chief Executive at Byker Community Trust added, “The award of this grant is a really positive achievement and we are keen to continue to work with our community partners and residents through proactive engagement to ensure the successful delivery of the Thriving Byker Strategy.

To find out more and apply for the Byker Partnership Manager role, visit www.northernstage.co.uk/recruitment