Katherine Barton, Chloe West-Nethercot and Gemma O’Brien from Sacriston Youth and Community Project: with Alison Goulding from County Durham Community Foundation

Poverty Hurts: Sacriston Youth and Community Project.

“Poverty is real, it’s on the doorstep and I wish everyone could understand that they are closer to being homeless than they are to being a millionaire.” 

Gemma O’Brien and the team from Sacriston Youth and Community Project are passionate when it comes to reducing poverty. Everyone has lived experience which helps them relate closely to the local community. 

Poverty Hurts

Because of the generosity of those who have given to the Poverty Hurts Appeal, Sacriston Youth and Community Project was awarded £1,000 to help support families facing hardship this winter. Drop-in sessions will help people with any issues they are facing. 

Gemma said: “Poverty does hurt. It influences everyday life and can become all encompassing. Just one unexpected bill, an emergency or small reduction in income can have a significant and lasting effect. 

“Our team are awesome. Everyone here has lived experience of the challenges faced by our families so when we listen, we do so with empathy, and with true understanding.” 

The project developed a poverty action plan in reaction to the pandemic called “Food for Thought” which now runs year-round.  

Early intervention

Gemma said: “We provide support, including care packages, cleaning products and hygiene products, errands running and befriending but we don’t stop there, we then offer information, advice and guidance so that whatever the trigger for crisis has been gets addressed, supporting families to be more resilient and in control of their future, with an emphasis on early intervention.  

“We also work on employability and develop individuals and families’ skills so that they can make every penny count, and find ways of saving money, from shopping savvy to cooking seasonally and from scratch.” 

Coupling sustainability with affordability has also helped local families access the project’s uniform and coat bank and food redistribution community pantry. 

Gemma said: “It is so important that we do our bit for the environment, and it can be done for free.  We try to challenge the throw-away society that we are burdened with. 

“We pride ourselves on doing things differently. People access our services for a variety of reasons, some may attend as they are socially isolated, others because they want to learn new skills, and for others because they need that hands-on support during a crisis. We do not have an eligibility criterion for our project, anyone can access, and they can refer themselves which can significantly speed up the project. The services are free to all.” 

Photo caption: Katherine Barton, Chloe West-Nethercot and Gemma O’Brien from Sacriston Youth and Community Project