GLOBAL business software firm Sage joined forces with the Byker Community Trust (BCT) and other local organisations recently to carry out a comprehensive spring clean of the Grade II* listed Byker Wall Estate.
Over 200 members of staff from Sage – which was founded in Newcastle in 1981 – took part in the joint initiative as part of the company’s commitment to support local communities through its Sage Foundation’s volunteering programme. They joined volunteers from the housing association, as well as Groundwork South and North Tyneside and Bell Group UK.
BCT and the charity Groundwork, identified nine key areas across the estate including St. Lawrence’s Church and Byker Community Centre where groups of up to 22 people worked together to carry out litter picks, painting and gardening improvements.
Railings and street furniture have all been re-painted in line with Ralph Erskine’s original colour scheme for the Byker Estate, with paint provided by Bell Group UK.
Flower beds have been turned over, levelled and seeded while any overgrown beds have been tidied up and cut back, leaves have been swept up and borders trimmed.
“This is a great example of partnership working at its best,” said Jill Haley, BCT’s chief executive. “It’s been a huge success and we really appreciate all 200 members of staff from Sage who have volunteered to give up their time to come and help keep this iconic Estate clean and tidy. I’d also like to thank our partners Groundwork and Bell Group UK.
“BCT has just completed large-scale community consultation on the estate, whereby we invited every Byker estate tenant and stakeholders to express their views on other priorities for a £4 million environmental improvement project. All the improvements we are making, including those that have been completed as part of this volunteering day, all play a significant part of helping us to deliver our strategy and commitment for creating a cleaner, greener Byker.”
The housing association owns and manages 1,800 homes on the estate and has invested £33 million since it was established in July 2012, with a further £14 million of improvements committed until 2025.
The organisation consulted with residents and tenants last year and feedback encouraged BCT to continue to facilitate litter picks, painting and gardening works across the estate.
Sage Foundation VP Debbie Wall said: “Sage is a Newcastle company, born and raised. As part of our commitment to our neighbours in the community, we have a long-standing relationship with the Byker Estate and we are always happy to lend a hand. Our colleagues thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to get stuck in and volunteer. Sage invites all colleagues to devote five paid days a year to community volunteering. For many, helping the Byker Estate is exactly how they choose to spend that time.”
Executive director Andrew Watts from Groundwork added: “We are delighted to be working and engaging with big corporations such as Sage. It’s great to see the community come together to work towards developing such an important part of Newcastle’s history. We look forward to continuing to work with leading corporations such as Sage, to work towards one of our 2020 goals that 15,000 people will be engaged in positive action to improve their local communities.”
Main Image: Staff from Sage volunteer to improve the Byker Wall Estate