A  team of unemployed young people on Teesside, determined not to let the Covid 19 pandemic stand in the way of their future job chances, has stepped in to help a new Centre for people with learning difficulties.

The 14 young people, aged between 16 and 25 from Middlesbrough and Redcar, are on a 12-week Prince’s Trust Team Programme run by Stockton Riverside College. They have won praise and £1,200 from Tata Steel business-support subsidiary UKSE to create a sensory area at the new Senses Wellbeing Centre in Skelton.

UKSE is a long-term supporter of the programmes which help young people into employment through work experience, help with interview and job application skills and the completion of a community project.   The team chose to help Senses and, with Covid safety measures in place, have been clearing an overgrown area, creating raised flower beds and planting.

The Centre is the result of a major fund-raising effort by the local community and a dream-come-true for organiser Karen Winspear.  It will provide fitness and wellbeing sessions for every age and ability to make fitness accessible for all, including those with special educational needs, additional needs, disabilities and dementia.

“The whole team has been fantastic and we are so grateful to them, the Prince’s Trust and UKSE,” said Karen. “Their efforts will give the Centre a colourful entrance and the use of scented plants will really help users to create a memory and associate it with a place of safety and enjoyment.

“East Cleveland has needed these facilities for a long time and we hope to welcome people from all over the Tees Valley. We will be open seven days a week for fitness, including sensory sessions and some held  in the dark, yoga, meditation, chair-based exercise, relaxation, and weight management .

“Helping with fitness can have a huge impact by improving physical and mental health and building social circles. The marvellous community effort has raised more than £20,000 and generous businesses have helped with lighting and flooring.”

Sarah Thorpe, UKSE’s Area Manager, said: “The young people and everyone involved are to be congratulated on their determination to make sure this programme and project have gone ahead in difficult times.  We were very impressed and pleased to help with the funding for something that will be enjoyed by so many people. We have now backed more than 50 of these programmes from our Community Support Fund – they not only help young people into employment but have also benefitted many local charities and groups.”

Craig Murphy, Prince’s Trust Team Leader, said: “UKSE’s support  not only helps us financially but the Dragons Den pitch the team makes to them, carried out virtually this time, really helps the young people with communication, budgeting and presentation skills.”

Details of UKSE’s support for businesses and community projects are on www.ukse.co.uk, the Prince’s Trust Team Programmes on www.stockton.ac.uk/princes-trust and Senses Wellbeing Centre on www.senseswellbeingcentre.co.uk.