A growing North East organisation is celebrating this morning after success in two categories at the North East Charity Awards last night.
At a ceremony at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead, Kids Kabin, which this summer marked its 25th birthday, was named Small Charity of the Year 2019, while one of its volunteers is the region’s Young Charity Champion of the Year.
Both Noor Amer, who is 19 and lives in Cowgate, and Kids Kabin, where she’s been a volunteer for the past three-and-a-half years, were chosen by judges from a respective shortlist of three.
The honours come only weeks after the charity announced its ongoing expansion into Middlesbrough, where it is currently recruiting team members to help it improve the lives of young people living in deprived areas through creative education.
Charity manager Will Benson said: “This is recognition of the amazing creative and personal potential of disadvantaged children and young people in both Newcastle and Middlesbrough, who often don’t get the chance to show what they can do in life.
“At Kids Kabin we’re very lucky to have found a positive and fun way of empowering children and young people. This has been made possible over the last 25 years by the hard work and support of hundreds of volunteers like Noor, and a great team of trustees and staff. We’re looking forward to the next 25 years!”
Based in Walker, Newcastle, and Grove Hill in Middlesbrough, Kids Kabin has worked with more than 10,000 children and young people in economically disadvantaged areas since it was formed in 1994. It teaches its young people, many of whom have grown up with the charity’s support and returned as volunteers, practical, hands-on skills that boost their sense of self-worth and confidence – and help them address local problems.
Noor, who leads a weekly activity workshop for Kids Kabin in Cowgate and this summer expanded her work, designing and running a family cookery and activity programme to help combat ‘holiday hunger’ among young people who receive free school meals during term time. She’s now considering a career working with children and young people, or in finding creative solutions to community issues.
She said: “I’m so proud to be involved with Kids Kabin – it’s somewhere calm and relaxed, where kids know they are wanted and can feel free to express themselves.
“There’s a lot of anti-social behaviour in our area, with teenagers who’ve been drinking being aggressive to children playing, and to adults – shouting and making racist or offensive comments. I hope that when I work with children at Kids Kabin, they’ll realise I’m as normal as anyone and will grow up to be more tolerant of others.”
Will, who nominated Noor for her award, went on: “Charities such as Kids Kabin both reflect and bear so many of the challenges faced by our society today. So our aim has always been to give children and young people in areas of significant need the chance to fulfil their potential, gaining confidence and skills through hands on activities, on their own terms and in their own streets.
“We enable them to find something creative and practical they can succeed in, and we’re delighted to have won this award for them, as it will ultimately help us reach even more children and young people across the North East.
“We’re also thrilled for Noor, as what immediately struck me about her is that she behaves differently to many of her peers in rising to the challenges surrounding her and is totally committed to positive social change.”
Kids Kabin started life in an empty shop unit, but now uses a fleet of bicycle trailers made by young people with the support of the Kids Kabin team to bring its many activities to areas including Cowgate, Daisy Hill, Byker, and Pottery Bank, as well as Grove Hill and Walker. Among its portable activities, it offers cookery, using many ingredients grown at the kitchen garden at its Walker base, as well as pottery, woodworking and bike repair. It also runs regular trips, camps and residentials across the region.
Charity trustee Yashin Sarnaik added: “Kids Kabin’s dedication to the North East community and to improving access to opportunity for young people across the region is so important, and has had such a positive impact over the last 25 years, it’s wonderful to see it given this award.
“Noor is testament to the work it does and both are deserving winners.”