Thursday, 25 March 2010

Some history

We are very fond of our history in Children North East and often tell the story of how the organisation started in 1891 as a day trip for 120 street children from Newcastle and Gateshead to the fresh seaside air of Whitley Bay. It is a good story repeated in the Chronicle last Saturday.

The past is important and we will be celebrating our 120th anniversary next year, however the present and the future are more pressing. WEYES is Children North East investing in the future of young people in the west of Newcastle, it's an expression of our belief in them.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Northern Chords

I was invited to attend the launch of Northern Chords at the Gateshead Hilton last night. It's the second year of the chamber music festival organised by three remarkable young men, all of them still university students. The festival is the brainchild of Jonathan Bloxham who is the Artistic Director. Jonathan is studying the cello at the Guildhall School of Music and appears in all four concerts over the course of this coming weekend.

Chris Stokel-Walker does the publicity including the fabulous festival brochure. Chris is studying English at Newcastle University and has a great way with words. I am very grateful to him for his occassional blogs about Children North East.

The third member of the team is Tom Rowley who is studying at Oxford University and tireless promoter and organiser of the whole festival. All three are former pupils of Newcastle Grammar School. The festival supports Children North East because Carol Taylor our Senior Fundraiser inspired them during her talks at the school about the charity's history.

Last year's festival was the first, an experimental showcase for good chamber music, this year the concept has been extended to include a competition for talented young musicians in schools across Tyneside. The final 10 will compete in a special concert at Newcastle University on Saturday lunchtime and the finalist will appear in the last concert of the festival in the Sage on Sunday evening.

It is fantastic to have a showcase for young musical talent here in the North East. It will be an aspiration and may even set some musicians on a great career. Having met the three fantastic young men behind the festival I have no doubt that we will all be hearing a great deal more of each one of them in the future.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Cash flow

We have been talking to the bank about a loan so we can pay _space upfront for the work they are doing at WEYES while we continue to fund raise. We wanted colateral for the loan to be against the value of our head office building. On Monday the bank said they would give us the loan but against our investments. On Tuesday our Board of Trustees Finance Committee thought about the proposal and accepted the idea. This is a relief because it means we can pay the builders and not have to worry about our cashflow.

In the meantime we are applying to charitable trusts asking for help with capital costs. For some months Catrina Flynn, our PR and Fundraising Manager has been researching the hundreds of charitable trusts available to select the ones most likely to be able to help. This has to do with the charitable objectives of each trust for example those that are interested in projects that support young people in the north east of Emgland. Nevertheless some of the possible trusts prefer you to talk to them which is my job to do.

We are still waiting to hear from the Social Investment Business about our applications to the Social Enterprise Investment Fund for capital grants. We are told just to wait, more applications to process than had been expected and the timescales have been extended to enable the assessors to cope.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Second site meeting

Our second monthly site meeting at WEYES today. There was a little delay in progress while _space reached agreement with the neighbour about demonlishing the shared wall but the project is back on track again largely due to excellent weather for making foundations! Much of the inside of the building has been taken down to make way for walls for the new room layout. Fortunately nothing worrying was found except for one small area of dry rot in a wooden lintel above a window which can easily be replaced.

The crack I described in my post on 18th February has been fixed and looks very solid. Not only were new courses of bricks used but also mesh in the mortar between the courses. That just need replastering now. A great deal of old plaster has been removed all over the house

The old garage at the back has been demolished and quite a lot of the back of the building. This is to make way for the big extension on the back of WEYES which will have the new kitchen and a large room for group activities. The foundations for the extension have been laid, fortunately they did not have to be quite as deep as first thought and have been approved by the Building Inspector. Blocks have been delivered and the builders were starting to use them to build the extension walls.

When _space got onto the roof it was in a worse condition than had been thought so we have decided to have a new roof rather than repair the old one, seems silly to s'poil the ship for a h'penth of tar'. _space have found a roofing firm who can do it at a very reasonable cost, so when it is finished the whole building will be new.