Dozens of young people in Cramlington are going for gold thanks to a four-figure grant from their local Newcastle Building Society branch.

Around 40 members of the Cramlington Youth Voluntary Project (CYVP) are starting work towards their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award this year, a process which will take up to 18 months and will involve them completing a range of community service, skills development and outdoor adventure assignments.

The long-standing charity is a licensed provider for the scheme, and provides support and equipment which makes it as accessible as possible to all of its young members, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Cramlington Youth Voluntary Project has now been awarded a £2,980 grant via Newcastle Building Society’s Craster Court branch in the town to enable it to buy a range of outdoor equipment, including waterproof trousers, jackets and rucksacks.

The grant will also help cover the accommodation, camp site and enrolment costs associated with taking part in the scheme, as well as some of the costs incurred by the CYVP volunteers who help the young people achieve their goals.

The funding has been provided by the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which has been set up to provide grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network, and put forward for support by its customers.

Established in 1990, Cramlington Voluntary Youth Project is a registered charity which offers a wide range of opportunities than can further the social and personal development of local young people, and provides a safe and friendly venue that meets the changing needs and desires of members with differing ages and abilities.

Over 1,000 young people living in south east Northumberland are registered with CYVP, with around 300 young people attending the project every week.

It is a past recipient of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK in recognition of outstanding work done in their communities.

Claire Gascoigne, youth development coordinator at CYVP, says: “The Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme is about so much more than completing a list of tasks – it helps participants make real contributions to the communities in which they live, helps them learn skills that they might one day use in the workplace and most especially enables them develop as useful members of society.

“A large proportion of our young members come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and can be young carers or refugees, part of low-income families or have other additional needs.

“We try to make the Awards Scheme accessible to as many of them as we can, so that they’re not stopped from taking part for financial reasons, and providing the right sort of equipment for our Gold-seeking members is a key part of this process.

“If we hadn’t received this funding, it’s very likely that a number of those who are starting on their journey towards their Gold Award this year simply wouldn’t have been able to do so, and as a result, the Society’s support will have a long-lasting positive impact on the lives of our participants.”

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has contributed over £494,707 in grants and partnerships with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Princes Trust. The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 151,000 people.

Grant applications for a maximum of £3,000 can be made in any Society branch or via the website by customers who wish to support their local communities.  There are larger grants of up to £50,000 also available to assist groups in improving or maintaining community buildings.

Kelly Beattie, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s Cramlington branch, adds: “The Cramlington Voluntary Youth Project has made a huge difference to the lives of generations of young people from across South East Northumberland, and their commitment to supporting the local community is very much aligned with our own way of working.

“We’re proud to helping CVYP maximise the number of young people it can help achieve their Duke of Edinburgh awards, and we’re looking forward to hearing about the participants’ progress over the coming months.”

The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.