‘Support and Grow North East’ (previously Shiremoor and Backworth Community Helps) is currently working towards attaining charitable status. The organisation sprang into action last year in response to the Covid-19 situation and has not stopped since. Our mantra is ‘strengthening futures through resilience, empowerment, engagement and solidarity….no one left behind!’
As a group, it sees a continual and ongoing need, which will long outlive the pandemic. Indeed, one effect of the pandemic and the related economic crisis has been to highlight and deepen long-term issues in our community. Communities across our area suffer from long-term poverty, health inequalities, social deprivation and mental health issues across all ages and there is a clear need to support the development of more resilient communities.
Support and Grow is an organisation run by like-minded people living in the heart of their community who have pledged to get what is needed to where it is needed, without delay or fear or favour. The group is a powerful safety net for those close to the edge. Individuals and families are engaged, empowered and enabled to move forward with greater resilience and independence.
Simply put, we help those in need whenever and however needed. At the beginning of lockdown 1.0 the group sprang into life and its team have worked to achieve this end every day since! We cover the whole of the North East and provide crisis care and support to anyone who needs it. We have supported survivors of domestic abuse, FGM, HBA, sex workers, victims of human trafficking and exploitation, people recovering from addiction, individuals who are homeless, LGBTQI+ homeless and refugee communities, victims of serious category crimes, youth provision, period poverty across schools, SEN schools, key workers, refugee and asylum seeking communities and many others.
We work alongside other organisations including Northumbria Police, Social Services, local health teams, local authorities, food banks and third-sector organisations. We have forged positive & meaningful links with various local charities and services in order to extend our reach.
We also have held events to encourage across community engagement, empowerment, social worth and value, such as the popular ‘Santa on a Bike’. Over the summer, we worked with NT council providing vouchers for swimming, mini golf, Jump 360, Pirate Escape and Centre for Life for families on FSM (free school meals), SEN (special educational needs) or meet another aspect of vulnerability. This was a huge opportunity for us and those we serve, and we managed to fill all the spaces within 40 minutes – so quickly the council asked us to close our social media posts! This shows that we have the correct links, engagement and networking skills to get products where they are needed and within effective and efficient time scales.
We are now fund raising to host Christmas events with our parties, with "sponsor a child" places, all of these were fully booked and sponsored withing the hour. This gives vulnerable children the opportunity to take part in activities and festive treats they would never be able to access under usual circumstances. This "normalising" activity is very important in our "Grow" strand of business and crucial in a trauma informed response to need and tackling trauma informed behaviours and deprivation. This also tackles health inequalities, improving futures and mental health for our families. Addressing localised health inequalities, as well as mental health and well-being are two of our core principles.
We also have some further events planned with Second Bite Bistro CIC with Christmas crafting and baking sponsored sessions for children, and we will be seeking funding and sponsored sessions for this imminently. Also, we aim to take our local vulnerable children to see a Pantomime (we are aiming to book the whole event).
Support and Grow has been measured on the National TOMS (Themes, Outcomes and Measures) Framework and our social value is one million dollars. This is mind-blowing to us. We are entirely dependent on donations and, as the impact of Covid on the community intensifies in terms of mental health, bereavement, day to day anxieties as well as financial pressure and job loss, we anticipate the needs we see growing rapidly over the next few months: redundancies and closures have already affected individuals and families in our area and this, alongside the renewed disruption to the traditional charity sector and regular public services, means the need for our services will be ever greater.
Empowering our communities and building further resilience is crucial at this time and we are committed to building a brighter future for those around us.