• Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

Barbara Scotland, receptionist at Walking With in North Tyneside, Ben Thomas, Head of Reward at Newcastle Building Society, Walking With in North Tyneside CEO Joan Hoult, service user Arsalan Hassan Mohammadi and Jonathan Fincken, manager at Newcastle Building Society's North Shields branchBarbara Scotland, receptionist at Walking With in North Tyneside, Ben Thomas, Head of Reward at Newcastle Building Society, Walking With in North Tyneside CEO Joan Hoult, service user Arsalan Hassan Mohammadi and Jonathan Fincken, manager at Newcastle Building Society's North Shields branch

A North Tyneside charity is supporting the physical well-being and mental health of asylum seekers coming to the region with the help of a four-figure grant from Newcastle Building Society.

Walking With in North Tyneside provides a range of services and activities to enable people who come to the area after arriving in the UK seeking sanctuary to feel welcomed, safe and part of the community.

It is using a £5,000 Newcastle Building Society grant to add small amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables to the 40 bags of non-perishable food that it provides every week across North Tyneside to asylum seekers that don’t qualify for benefit payments.

The grant was provided through the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, which offers grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network.

Founded in 1999 and headquartered on Hugh Street in Wallsend, Walking With in North Tyneside works to welcome, befriend, support and empower asylum seekers, by providing education, befriending, resources and a safe, welcoming environment in which they can spend time and socialise.

It currently has 512 people on its books, with a 50-strong team of local volunteers helping the charity to deliver its different projects and services, which include English language classes, clothing and food banks, healthcare and well-being activities and housing support.

It is also part of a Schools Of Sanctuary project which is enabling pupils in eight local schools learn more about the issues facing asylum seekers, and so helping the children of families seeking asylum who are attending these schools to feel more settled there.

Joan Hoult, chief executive officer at Walking With in North Tyneside, says: “We began providing our food bags during the pandemic and they made a big difference to the health and well-being of our clients, so we’ve been keen to continue and enhance them.

“The people that we’re helping have extremely limited resources available to them, meaning buying fresh produce is often simply not possible.

“Adding fresh ingredients to our food bags means the recipients can add to ingredients like lentils and chickpeas and cook familiar meals from scratch, which is important from both a nutritional and a social point of view.

“The feedback that we’ve had has been very positive and the impact that this work is having on recipients’ mental health is especially pleasing to see.

“Our organisation doesn’t receive any statutory funding, and with demand growing for the many other ongoing activities that we provide, we simply wouldn’t have been able to make this project happen without Newcastle Building Society’s generous support.”

Jonathan Fincken, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s North Shields branch who recently visited the charity, adds: “Walking With in North Tyneside has a long history of helping people who’ve arrived in our region with almost nothing and their support has never been needed more than it is today.

“This latest project shows just how much of a positive impact a little bit of extra thought can have and we’re very pleased to be able to help Walking With extend its excellent local work.”

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund at the Community Foundation has also contributed over £2.3m in grants and partnerships to a wide variety of charities and projects across the region, including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Prince’s Trust.

The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 151,000 people.