A Newcastle charity celebrating its 30th anniversary is growing the help available to young jobseekers in the city thanks to a grant from Newcastle Building Society.

Streetwise offers free confidential information, advice and support to young people in the city aged between 11 and 25 years old, through regular drop-in sessions at its Blackfriars Court headquarters in the city centre, detached work across Newcastle and a counselling and emotional wellbeing services service operating out of local schools, GP surgeries and community buildings.

After asking young people what additional support would be most useful, the charity is now introducing an enhanced employability service specifically designed to help people in the hospitality industry who’ve been out of work during the pandemic while their employers’ venues have been closed.

A £5,000 Newcastle Building Society grant has enabled Streetwise to pay for the resources required to dedicate one of its weekly drop-in sessions to providing employability advice and one to one support for young people struggling to find work, by exploring their passion, skills, confidence and experience.

The project has already helped around a dozen young people secure interviews, with five so far going on to secure new full-time or part-time jobs.

The funding has been provided through the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which offers grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network.

Launched in September 1991, Streetwise enables young people to access free information, advice, counselling, support and sexual health services in a confidential and welcoming environment six days a week.

It comes into contact with around 8,000 young people every year. It needs to raise around £800,000 every year to meet its overall running costs.

Mandy Coppin, Chief Executive at Streetwise, says: “We’ve never been busier than we have been over the last 18 months, and one of the biggest issues we’ve been trying to help with is that many young people have lost their foothold in the employment market.

“It’s widely accepted that younger people have been disproportionately affected by job losses during the pandemic, and many of our service users had either part-time jobs to help support them while they’re in education or full-time jobs in the hospitality sector that effectively vanished overnight.

“The dedicated sessions that we’re now running build on the skills, experience and interests that our young people have, and help to give them practical support and identify the best ways in which they can achieve their employment goals.

“We’re already beginning to see results for the additional focus we’re now able to provide on employability and we’re very hopeful that there’s a lot more to come.

“Winning Newcastle Building Society’s backing not only helps us cover the cost of this extended service, but also adds to the credibility we have as an organisation, and we’re very pleased to have them on our side.”

Graeme Fowler, a trainer and Community Ambassador at Newcastle Building Society, adds: “As all our communities face the impact of the pandemic, we’ve focused our grant making on helping to tackle issues around employability and food poverty, so it’s pleasing to support the practical and targeted service that Streetwise is providing.

“Their work makes a clear difference on young people’s prospects in our home city, extending our positive impact on our communities.”

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has contributed over £2.1m 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.

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