Up to a dozen teenagers, some with military backgrounds, got their hands dirty last week as part of a 12-week personal development programme.
The volunteers, who are all unemployed and aged between 16 and 25, chose to help the veterans living at Avondale House in Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne by tidying up the garden and planting flowers and plants. They also volunteered to give the laundry room a makeover by painting the walls.
The 12-week TEAM programme is run by Consett & District YMCA on behalf of Stockton Riverside College and engages young people in projects and challenges within the community. By the end of the programme, they learn work and leadership skills as well as giving them the confidence and motivation to enable them to move into work, education or further training.
As part of the community project of the programme, they raised £500 by organising a sponsored bike ride from Byker to St. Mary’s Lighthouse and also carried out bag packing in their local B&M store. They then used that money to buy flowers, plants, ornaments and paint to carry out the work at Avondale House, which is managed by the veterans’ charity, Launchpad and owned by the Byker Community Trust (BCT) housing association.
Award-winning Launchpad, which operates two veterans’ homes in Newcastle and Liverpool, has been in operation for nearly three years providing a safe environment helping residents to make a responsible transition from military to civilian life. The charity and veterans address the major challenges that, for the majority of residents, have led to homelessness and unemployment.
Justin King, Team Leader and Area Co-ordinator for Consett & District YMCA said, “This has been a really successful project and has given our volunteers hands-on experience of planning, organising, fundraising and delivering a community project. They chose to work with Launchpad as some of them have military backgrounds themselves so it is very close to their hearts and they have all enjoyed the experience. I would particularly like to thank the veterans who have made us feel very welcome during our time here.”
Phil Old, Manager of Avondale House, said: “As a charity, we are always looking for volunteers and support and when Justin got in touch to say that they had chosen Avondale House, we were more than happy for them to come and help tidy the garden and give the laundry room a new makeover. Hopefully they have been able to learn new skills and on behalf of myself and all the veterans living here at Avondale House, I would like to wish them well for the rest of the programme.”
The Consett & District YMCA is one of the biggest providers of the Prince’s Trust 12-week TEAM programme on behalf of Stockton Riverside College and for more information about becoming a volunteer and joining the programme, please contact 01207 502 680.