This year is a special birthday for Children North East. 2021 marks the charity’s 130th anniversary. Founded in 1891 as the Poor Children’s Holiday Association, it began by taking deprived inner-city Newcastle children down the River Tyne by boat to the seaside for fresh air and fun.
From that modest enterprise grew the thriving regional children’s charity it is today with 28 different projects helping babies, children, and young people grow up in a healthy and happy way.
Very sadly, the North East of England still suffers from rising levels of child poverty. Latest figures show more than 35% of children and young people, almost 11 in a classroom of 30, are growing up in poverty in the North East region after housing costs – that’s the highest rate in the country after inner London, 37%, and compares with a national figure of around 30%.
Thanks to the funding provided by players of People’s Postcode Lottery – an amazing £2,421,383 to date - Children North East is working hard to help disadvantaged children. For example, their unique Poverty Proofing the School Day initiative, which tackles inequalities in education, began regionally but now has national reach. Last year 31,124 primary and secondary pupils in 72 schools across the country were helped through the poverty proofing programme.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, existing services have been adapted and new ones launched in response to people’s changing needs. In 2020 Children North East:
- Established a domestic abuse helpline in response to a rising incidence of violence in the home during lockdown
- Provided more than 3,000 craft activity packs to children isolating at home and hundreds of food parcels to families in need
- Delivered specialist counselling to 459 young people aged nine to 25 who were struggling with mental health issues
In addition 841 Newcastle Parent Infant Partnership (NEWPIP) sessions supported secure relationships between babies and parents and 593 family intervention sessions were provided for families in crisis.
In the last year staff delivered more than one million minutes of activity across the charity.
However, it’s evident that the demand for such services is likely to grow in the coming decade as the financial implications of the coronavirus crisis hit home.
Chief Executive of Children North East, Leigh Elliott, said: "Our 130th anniversary is an opportunity to both reflect on how far we have come and also consider how we can adapt to this challenging post pandemic landscape. Children North East is enormously grateful to the generosity and continued support of players."