Pockets full of green fingers at youth projcet

23 February 2011

Members of a Cramlington young people’s project are showing off their green fingers thanks to a five-figure grant from a local developer.

The Cramlington Voluntary Youth Project (CVYP) has installed a 30m long raised garden bed at its Station Lane headquarters into which members are now planting a range of vegetable and salad seeds.
And the produce that the young gardeners harvest later in the year will be cooked in the project’s kitchens and served back to other members in its new member-run cafe.

The £11,167 grant given by local firm The Banks Group, via its Banks Community Fund, has also paid for the laying of a path right through the garden area, thus making it wholly accessible to the project’s wheelchair-bound members, and has funded an additional storage unit in which all CVYP’s outdoor equipment can be safely stored.

Active since 1988, Cramlington Voluntary Youth Project runs a range of events, activities and educational sessions for local young people between eight and 18 years old, or up to age 25 for people with special needs.

It has over 1,000 active users, with up to 400 of them taking part on a weekly basis in a varied number of activities around subjects including music, cookery, indoor sports, arts & crafts and ICT, as well as after school clubs and drop-in sessions.

It’s not the first time that Banks has back the CVYP’s work, with a £4,800 grant given to the organisation in 2009 paying for a range of gardening and sporting equipment, as well as new seating and additional features in its sensory garden.

Project Development Coordinator, Rob Hall says: “The demand for the services we provide is getting greater all the time, and we’re finding that people are coming from further afield than ever before to take advantage of the opportunities we offer.

“A huge amount of work has gone into our garden over the last few years, and adding the vegetable bed is a brilliant way to get our members even more involved with it – they’ve not wasted any time in planting crops that we’ll see in the summer, and the prospect of then seeing them cooked and served in our own cafe is getting people excited already.

“As well as being useful activities in themselves, all these different projects help our members develop skills that they can eventually use at home or in their careers, and the impact the work has on our members’ self-confidence can really be seen.

“With the economic problems that are affecting everyone, finding funding for our work has become much harder in the last couple of years, so the continuing support we’ve had from Banks has been especially welcome.”

Banks Mining has operated several surface mines in south east Northumberland since the 1980s, and currently operates the Shotton and Brenkley Lane sites on the Blagdon Estate near Seaton Burn.

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at the Banks Group adds: “The CVYP team do a brilliant job in engaging with local young people and getting them involved with interesting activities to have both practical and leisure elements to them.

“The impact of their work will be felt by their individual members for many years to come, and it’s a real pleasure for us to be able to continue to support their excellent work.”

Projects, community groups, or organisations looking for funding in the vicinity of a Banks Group development should contact Clare Johnson at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.