A Newcastle housing association is taking part in a new venture to ensure that youngsters living in the city’s Byker estate have something to keep them busy over the summer school holidays.
The Byker Children & Young People’s Network is a partnership of organisations working together to increase the play and youth offer for children and young people living on the Grade II* listed estate.
The Byker Best Summer Ever project is led by Byker Community Trust (BCT), the housing association which owns the estate, Northern Stage, and Byker Community Centre; they have planned a series of free activities everyday throughout the six weeks school holidays to ensure this will be the ‘Best Summer Ever’.
The initiative is part of Newcastle’s ‘Best Summer Ever’ – a million-pound programme of events, activities, sports and healthy eating available to all children and young people across the city.
Through a multi-agency approach, the Byker Best Summer Ever partnership was awarded £10,000 of grant funding from the National Lottery’s Awards for All and £700 from the Department of Transport’s Big Bike Revival. The project totals in excess of £50,000 through the support and in-kind donations of a whole range of local organisations to ensure there are more activities for the benefit of Byker residents.
The project will provide free lunch for young people every day from Byker Community Centre followed by a range of activities including arts and crafts, poetry, dancing, horse riding sessions, multi-sports as well as visits and trips to The Victoria Tunnel, Whitehouse Farm, Seven Stories and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.
“We all know that the school summer holidays is a time for fun and relaxation but it can also be stressful and expensive to keep young ones busy and active. There are lots of great events happening across the city during the six weeks holidays but are sometimes not always accessible for our residents,” said Jill Haley, BCT’s chief executive.
“By working in partnership with lots of different organisations and providers, we have been able to pull together a very comprehensive daily timetable of activities and events for all ages and abilities, here on the Estate and the wider Byker area, to ensure everyone is given an opportunity and to bring the Byker community together.
“By accessing additional funding through grants, the partnership has been able to put something really special together which we believe will make this summer, the best ever in Byker.”
Jill Adamson, director of participation at Northern Stage, said: “Byker Best Summer Ever is part of our ongoing work with the local community to co-create cultural events and activity in Byker. Our rehearsal space is in Byker and we’ve been establishing long term relationships with community partners for some time now so we’re really excited to launch a free programme for children and young people this summer.
“Thanks to additional funding, as part of Newcastle’s Best Summer Ever, we’ve been able to employ nine young people to help run the programme. And we’ve also got opportunities for adults coming up in August, including open auditions for performers – no experience necessary – to be part of a new show we’re making with Common Wealth at Byker Community Centre which will premiere in October.”
Main Image: Launch of the Byker Best Summer Ever initiative at the Byker Community Trust family fun day. Left to right: Will Benson, manager of Kids Kabin; Carys Thomas, Best Summer Ever team co-ordinator; Jill Adamson, director of participation at Northern Stage; Jennie Dixon, team leader at Foundation Futures; and Jill Haley, chief executive of Byker Community Trust