Thursday, 26 November 2009

Tim and Denise

Tim Healy and his wife Denise Welch are Celebrity Patrons for Children North East and are especially interested in the WEYES campaign.

Tim grew up in Benwell not far from WEYES. He says he would not be where he is today were it not for the love, care and support of his parents. He can see how important a place like WEYES is for young people who do not have supportive families. Denise is passionate about helping young people. She says it is easy for people to want to give money to help young, sick or disabled children but young people also need our help too.

Last week Denise visited WEYES and some other Children North East projects. Like Tim before her she was moved by the stories of the people she met there and wants to do anything she can to help. Not just for publicity but directly for some of the young people themselves.

So look out for a big article in the local press soon about Tim and Denise's support for WEYES. We would like to have a banner on the building with a picture of them both saying something like 'We support WEYES, why don't you'. Then there is the possibility of an 'Auf Wiedersehen Pet' reunion on the building site at the WEYES - what a photo shoot that would be! And much more to come.

While we are on the subject of celebrities - a little bird told me Dolly Parton supports Children North East too! International fame indeed!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Off!

The Children North East Board of Trustees met last night and agreed to go ahead with the renovation of the WEYES building because they thought it was the right thing to do for the WEYES project and the young people who use it.

They also agreed a fundraising plan. We estimate the total cost will be £400,000 (including VAT, insurance etc.). Children North East can just afford a quarter of the total. We think we can raise about another quarter through sponsorship by businesses that support us and fundraising events. But we will look for the other half of the money from charitable trusts and foundations. That is rather a specialised skill and not one we have in Children North East so the Board have given permission for us to employ a specialist trust fundraiser specifically for the WEYES campaign. It will not be a permanent job and apparently people who are good at trust fundraising are not easy to find, so the search starts now.

There are lots of things to get right - the building work, finance, publicity, promotion and all the different sorts of fundraising etc. All are dependent on each other and so need to be organised. The Board have given me the job of coordinating a group of the key people who need to involved. I am looking forward to it!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Almost off at last

Things take much longer than one imagines. When I started this blog back in August I thought work on the building might have begun by November. However there has been a lot of activity this week. Rob Charlton who is CEO of _space group has taken personal charge of the WEYES project. Rob and his wife have been terrific supporters of Children North East for some years. The _space group have supported us all through the design and planning application process for the WEYES building project (you can read Rob's blog here: On Monday Rob met some of our Trustees to propose a cost effective way of managing the building project and suggest some ways in which Rob could support our fundraising.

Yesterday the Finance Sub-Committee met to consider Rob's proposals alongside our fundraising plans and agreed to recommend financially supporting the project and also suggested investing some additional capacity in our fundraising team to give us the best chance of raising the money we need to complete the renovation. The whole board of trustees meets next Wednesday (18th) when the decision will be taken to commit Children North East to the renovation of the WEYES building. So just one more week and all being well we will have a 'green light' to go ahead.

Rob says work could start in January and should be finished in time for the summer holidays. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

BBC Free Thinking Festival

The BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival took place at the Sage, Gatehead recently, the theme of the weekend was the Family in the 21st Century. Children North East's own Head of Fatherwork Roger Olley was a panelist in a discussion on the question: 'Is there a future for men?' which will be broadcast on the BBC Radio 3 Nightwaves programme on 3rd December 2009.

The opening lecture was given by Professor Tanya Byron, you can listen to it as a podcast here: She spoke passionately about the urgent need to address discrimination against our children and young people asking, how is it that the UK has come to fear and distrust its own children and young people?

This month sees the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UK adopted the Convention (which is legally binding on member states) in April 1990. Every few years the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child examines how the Convention is being implemented in each country. In its last report  the Committee admonished the UK and asked us to take 'urgent measures to address the intolerance and inappropriate characterization of children, especially adolescents, within the society, including in the media.'

Tanya Byron pointed out that we have come to condemn our young people and that if you are told you are no good that is what you become. She urged us instead to try to understand our children and young people because that is what good parents (and good societies) do.

The Children North East WEYES project does just that. It is a place for young people who have no where else to turn. There they will find people who will always find time to listen, will try to understand and if asked will give good advice. In a society as intolerant of young people as our is, it is vital that WEYES exists; but it is an endictment of our intolerance that it is a necessary project.