Thursday, 24 June 2010

More encouraging news

On Tuesday Catrina Flynn our fundraising manager and I went to London to make a presentation to the national committee of a Charitable Trust and answer questions. Naturally we prepared and rehearsed carefully for the hour long meeting with a panel of 5 people. I am delighted that today we were contacted to say the Trust would like to visit WEYES to satisfy themselves that the project is as good as we said it was and to make a recommendation to the Trust's Board of Trustees to make a grant towards the cost of the WEYES building project.

This really is exciting news. We are not there yet but well on the way to getting some help towards the cost of the building project. I am not going to name the Trust until it is definate but you can tell I am very hopeful.

The 5 people we met in London were very interested in the project and asked intelligent questions (in fact the hour we spent with them rushed by). I think one of the most telling was asking whether it would not be better to do outreach work to young people in need by going to places where they gather like burger bars. There is no Macdonalds, Burger King or Kentucky Fried Chicken in the area where WEYES is and the reason is that the area is not wealthy enough to support businesses like that. And young people are the ones least likely to have money to spend in them even if they did exist. It is easy to forget just how disadvantaged Benwell, Elswick and many other wards in the North East are compared to other parts of the country.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Youth Council elections

At the start of this year Children North East won a contract from Newcastle City Council to assist young people to set up an independent Youth Council for the city. This work is being managed by WEYES and in time perhaps the Youth Council will have a permanent home in the new WEYES building.

An incredible amount of work has gone on since February so that the first elections to the Youth Council could take place this week. The 'constituencies' had to be set up, candidates recruited, manifestos produced and disseminated, the election published and a voting method established. Young people could vote online or in their school using the actual ballot boxes which are used by adults in local and general elections.

The result of the election was announced at a reception in St. James's Park at lunch time today. The Sheriff of Newcastle congratulated all 50 candidates and gave awards to each and every one of them for putting themselves forward and for taking part. Then the result was announced. Over 8,000 young people had voted - an astonishing result in itself which gives real legitimacy to all the young people elected to 30 places on the Youth Council.

Congratulations to everyone who took part and in particular to all the project staff at WEYES who worked so hard on the election. You can see all the results on the Youth Council website: and here are all the candidates with the Sheriff:

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Fifth site meeting

It is really taking shape now. The site meeting this morning took place in the new meeting room which has been built at the back of the building where there was once just an old garage. It is light, airy and a good size for meetings, group activities or training. You get to it through the kitchen, which has been considerably enlarged and is big enough now to accommodate several small cafe type tables and chairs should the project want to use it that way.

There is a clear hallway all the way through the ground floor so you can see part of the kitchen area from the front door and also, to your right the new recpetion area. All the rooms have a proper shape now. The health room is in the same place as it used to be downstairs at the front of the building, but the room has been restored to its proper proportions which is a big improvement. Upstairs too all the rooms are looking good.

_space have done a terrific job managing the building work so that it will finish as orginally planned in mid July and the total cost will be as planned, just under £300,000 plus VAT even though the work has included things which were not budgetted for like a new roof, repairing the forward leaning parapet at the top of the front wall, restoring the stonework and sorting out the front garden.

By the time of the next site meeting in July the building will be practically complete.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Chlamydia Knickers

WEYES has a significant contract with Newcastle Primary Care Trust (NHS) to provide sexual health services for young people in the west area of Newcastle. You have probably seen the Chlamydia advertising on the TV, that is because if left untreated it can cause serious problems including infertility and it is the 16-24 age group who are most at risk - 65% of all people who have Chlamydia are in that age range. Each year the PCT and WEYES agree a target number of young people to be screened for Chlamydia and each year it goes up. The NHS in the North East wanted 25% of 15-24 year olds tested in 2009-10, this year they want 35% tested. For WEYES that translates into 1200 young people to be tesetd for the first time in 2010-11 and in particular the PCT want to target young men age 16 to 18 because they are the group least likely to come forward for a test.

Last year the PCT offered free 'Chlamydia knickers' to everyone (girls and boys) who was tested. The knickers have pictures of Chlamydia monsters on them like the advertising and became very popular - a must have fashion item for teenage girls in Newcastle! This year the PCT budget has already been cut so there are no more knickers to give out. Having no incentives for the young people will make the task more difficult to achieve but WEYES has developed an active programme of outreach including involving some young people to promote the sexual health services on offer at WEYES to their contemporaries in places like Newcastle College.