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North Tyneside

A Little Box of Hope for North Tyneside

NT Life Boxes of Hope from Robin on Vimeo.

Participants of VODA’s NT LIFE Recovery College in North Tyneside received a special surprise at their door recently with the delivery of a Little Box of Hope to help support them through this challenging time.

NT LIFE – which is funded by the North Tyneside CCG – created 200 Little Boxes of Hope, each containing a series of exercises, contacts, poems and motivational quotes and a number of small gifts, each with an explanation of why they have been included have been collated and distributed with help from a number of volunteers, support from the team at One Below at the Silverlink and funding from the North East Suicide Prevention Network.

Over the course of the COVID-19 crisis, NT LIFE Recovery College worker Ali Donkin has had to completely rethink the support offered to participants. Part of the ethos of NT LIFE is the ability to come together to share experiences and learn how to manage our own wellbeing and mental health. However, the coronavirus has (temporarily) put a stop to these face to face activities.

Ali quickly adapted NT LIFE to ensure that she is still able to support those who need it via online resources, with the NT LIFE Facebook page becoming a central point of contact for daily support and resources. The Facebook page and website feature a range of online resources including the 11:11 Mindfulness 5 Minute mindfulness journal, downloadable activities and free courses, alongside home delivered activity packs from the team at VODA. The NT LIFE course facilitators have also created a range of online sessions accessible via video conferencing platform Zoom.

It became clear that some of the people involved in NT LIFE were finding the lockdown particularly difficult and so Ali decided to create a Little Box of Hope to help them through. Ali commented: “I created the Little Box of Hope firstly to reach out and let people know they are not alone and to help them through these challenging times. There is always someone on the outside thinking of them and willing to help. They have worth and value even if they don’t feel that way right now. If at the very least it makes someone smile for a moment, in spite of their anxieties and fears, then we really have achieved something important.”

Some of the items in the box are to give the person a moment to STOP and take time to adjust their thinking, to recognise these feelings are not permanent. There are also items that are metaphors, for example the yoyo – a distraction – the soothing motion of the yoyo on the string, but also a reminder of simpler times playing with childhood toys. The box also includes practical things such as the list of crisis contacts and helplines. There are tools and techniques for dealing with feelings and also some things that are simply humorous.

“I recall many a time when I have witnessed in myself and others how humour can bring us back from the brink,” says Ali.

What do we hope this box will achieve? Ali comments: “My deepest hope is that for anyone who really is at their lowest, is thinking seriously about ending their life, it stops them in the moment and offers an alternative choice. If it prevents even one suicide then this little box of hope will be priceless.”

Feedback so far has shown that the boxes have been well received:

“I was having a really bad day today in fact I was close to ending everything. I can’t describe how much it means to me. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. To know someone thinks enough to put something like that together and deliver it is the most amazing thing I have ever had.”

“Paddy and Linda Rogan are both in their seventies. I’ve been shopping for them for the last couple of months. Paddy has dementia so Linda can’t leave him and he doesn’t understand the social distancing policies everywhere.” 




“My sister has been living with mental ill health for 30 years and doesn’t get out much, lockdown or not. She really appreciated her box.”




“Thank you so much for my lovely gift and thoughts. It was so lovely of you. it moved me tears. You are a diamond. Is there any other stone more precious because if there is I’ll have to start calling you that one?”

“Just wanted to say a huge thank you for my box today. The box made me cry and made me feel so special. It’s absolutely beautiful and I will treasure it, thank you so much.”

“Thank you so much for the comfort packs for me and my mam, I don’t know if you know this but our cat was knocked over and killed early yesterday morning. We are going to use the box as a memory box for her.”

The boxes were collated and delivered by a team of volunteers, who also found that they benefited from the activity.  With volunteers commenting:

“On Friday for the first time in a long while I felt excited and involved.”

“Thank you so much for your help, support and the laughter we had on Friday packing the Little Boxes of Hope. It was an amazing day from my perspective and having delivered some of these over the weekend they are getting a great response.”





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Larger funds now available from the National Lottery Heritage Emergency Fund

Existing and past National Lottery Heritage Fund grant-holders can now apply for grants of between £50,000 and £250,000 to cover emergency costs resulting from the Covid-19 crisis, for a 4 month period dating from the submission of the application. This new tranche of higher level grants is designed to help applicants address immediate risks, become more stable and work towards longer term recovery and is additional to the grants of between £3,000 to £50,000 already available which were announced back in April.
The deadline for applications is Tuesday 30 June – apply for both tranches here.
The awarding of the higher level grants will be focussed on grant-holders who have been significantly funded by Heritage Lottery either currently or in the past which can also demonstrate the vital contribution they have made/are making to local communities via their heritage project and have limited or no access to other sources of support, have limited reserves and have already tried other options
The higher level grants will cover areas such as: stabilising an organisation, protecting heritage by mothballing, reconfiguring business plans, site maintenance or securing natural habitats, increasing digital (online) activities and will cover proportional contributions to staff and operational costs over a 4 month period.
Further advice and support on what can be funded is available from the National Lottery Heritage Fund North East team, email: NorthEastContact@heritagefund.org.uk, or call: 0191 249 6222 (Monday to Friday, 9.00am–5.00pm).
Deadline: 30 June 2020
Read more and apply here
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Sir James Knott Trust

Sir James Knott Trust supports charitable activity in Tyne and Wear, Northumberland, County Durham and Hartlepool.

The Trust is an excellent local funder that makes monthly decisions on applications of up to £1,000 and larger grants three times per year.

Special consideration is given to charitable activities known to have been of particular interest to Sir James Knott. They include: Providing opportunities for people to congregate such as youth clubs and projects to help the elderly. Sir James was concerned that people could find work and so they support training. He was keen to ensure that that people have a roof over their heads, where they are safe. Finally, Sir James and Lady Knott, having lost two of their sons in active service in the First World War were drawn to military and maritime good causes. .

The Trustees have wide discretion on the distribution of funds. They do not fund research or activity that has already taken place. They do fund faith based organisations as long as the activity is open to those of all faiths and none.

Monthly decisions on grants up to £1,000 and Trustees meet to consider larger grant applications three times a year. Grants totalling about £1.8million a year are made, funded from investment income. Read more here.

Please apply to the Trust using the new online facility.

COVID-19: The Trust has made significant donations to the Community Foundation to support both of their Coronavirus Emergency Funds. If your application relates to Coronavirus Emergency Funding then please apply directly to the Community Foundation and not to the Sir James Knott Trust.

Please note: the office is closed under lockdown. If you make an application by post we will not see this until the restrictions are lifted and so we again urge you to use the online application facility. The office telephone will not be answered during this period, but we would encourage you to contact us to discuss your circumstances and your plans at info@knott-trust.co.uk –  Barbara or Jo will call you if you leave a contact number.

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Free business support for charities from the Cranfield Trust

Cranfield Trust has been providing free tailored business support to voluntary organisations for nearly 30 years. During this challenging time, all of their services can be accessed remotely, so you can still get the expert business support you need, wherever you are.

Here are some of the ways Cranfield Trust can help you – all these services are free for charities to access:

  • 1:1 telephone support – from experts on topics including finance, communication, and business contingency planning.
  • HRNet – tailored HR and employment advice for charities. (Due to differences in legislation, HRNet is only available to charities in England and Wales).
  • Management Consultancy – longer term support, to help your charity thrive.
  • Mentoring – personal support for leaders in difficult times. A senior level ‘critical friend’, someone who can share their knowledge and experience, whilst supporting you to consider your leadership decisions and impact.

To find out more and get help for your charity, please email admin@cranfieldtrust.org or visit www.cranfieldtrust.org

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Volunteering opportunities update: 18 May 2020

As we head towards the two month mark in this lockdown, we are in awe of the work carried out across North Tyneside by the army of volunteers that have signed up to help.

The response to the VODA volunteering opportunities has been overwhelming, as of the end of last week we had recruited over 250 new volunteers, carried out almost 1200 tasks and spent £10,800 on shopping.

Understandably, the range of volunteering opportunities has been massively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, with most on hold until we can return to some sort of normality. However, there are still opportunities for those of you who are able to get out and about to help with the response efforts, as well as a few things you can do from home.

If you have a volunteering opportunity that you would like us to promote, please email volunteering@voda.org.uk.

VODA volunteering opportunities

COVID-19 Good Neighbours update

Please note, there is currently a waiting list for both our Tier 1 and Tier 3 Good Neighbours roles. Find out more about these roles and sign up to the waiting list here.

Make someone’s day with a letter (home based)

VODA is running a social action project that you can take part in from home. Our SAINT team (Social Action in North Tyneside) would like to expand this to include letters to the beneficiaries to brighten their days.

All you have to do is write a nice letter (ideally one side of A4), with whatever you think you would like to receive yourself. You could share what you have been up to during lockdown, things you are thankful for, a favourite poem or song lyrics, or a little anecdote to brighten someone’s day.

Take a picture of the letter (make sure you can read it clearly on your screen) and email the picture to jo.woolley@voda.org.uk. We will then print them and add to future food parcels.

Other COVID-19 volunteering opportunities

Food Share (Newcastle-based)

FoodCycle is looking for food prep and food parcel delivery drivers in the west end of Newcastle. Find out more here.

Fareshare (Newcastle-based)

Each week FareShare North East deliver 80kg of surplus food to each of the 200 organisations who are providing vital assistance to vulnerable people. They have a range of volunteer roles available, including; warehouse assistant, driver, admin assistant, social media ambassador, community champion, customer service, volunteer engagement and community fundraiser.

To find out more, go to https://fareshare.org.uk/volunteer/  and complete the form to help decide which roles are suitable for you.

West End Refugee Service (home based)

WERS is recruiting volunteer remote befrienders to support a family or an individual in Newcastle/Gateshead through Covid-19 with phone calls and video chats, to give social support, information about staying safe and connecting with services. You will play an important role in helping a family or individual with a refugee background feel more welcomed, supported and safe during this time. Go to their volunteering page to find out more www.wers.org.uk/how-to-help/volunteering/

The Palette (North East)

The Palette is seeking volunteers to help deliver Kids Art Boxes across the North East!

All you need is a valid UK drivers licence and insurance on your vehicle and spare time on a Tuesday (at a time to suit you). They will provide a pre-planned route for deliveries to your chosen area and 45p per estimated mile you drive.

If you might be interested, please fill in a no-obligation registration at www.thepalettenewcastle.com/at-home-arts-programme. They will then send you an information leaflet so you can decide if you’d like to help out!

Making for the NHS (home based)

Making for NHS North of Tyne is a collaboration between North Tyneside based businesses and our local community, making cotton bags and crafts for those in need both in the NHS and families affected by the Coronavirus.

If you would like to get involved, go to their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/makingforthenhs/ or email makingforthenhs@gmail.com

HenPower Henpals scheme from Equal Arts (home based)

Henpower is asking for letters and cards that they can distribute to people in care homes (their Hensioners) https://www.facebook.com/henpowerproject/. You can take a picture of the letter or card and email it to henpals@equalarts.org.uk

Digital Story Chain from Equal Arts (home based)

Help create a piece of lockdown literature alongside acclaimed author Kate Mosse. Equal Arts ​story chain is shared and shaped by everyone’s different ideas to help keep us connected and creative. Take part at www.equalarts.org.uk/story-chain

Age UK North Tyneside

AGE UK North Tyneside is seeking volunteers with cars to provide local patient transport to get the routinely discharged older people out of hospital and back home ahead of the peak of the pandemic.

They also need more telephone befrienders, find our more here https://www.ageuk.org.uk/northtyneside/get-involved/volunteer/

Dreamshine (home based)

Dreamshine telephone befriending volunteers, you can sign up here – https://voda.org.uk/opportunity/telephone-support-covid-19-711/ Or here http://dreamshine.co.uk/contact-us/ (new volunteers can join a waiting list).


The national GoodSam scheme will reopen in a few weeks – https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHSvolunteerresponders

Non-Covid 19 roles

Forest Hall Young People’s Club is looking for volunteer (s) caretaker / groundsperson to help cut, maintain and mark the grass pitches at their Pavilion. Expected hours are 4/5 hours per week during warmer weather, less throughout winter. https://voda.org.uk/opportunity/caretaker-groundsperson-695/

Princes Trust has a role available for online mentors – https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/support-our-work/volunteer/become-an-online-mentor.

Common Room of the North archives volunteer – https://thecommonroom.org.uk/can-you-help-us/. they can induct new volunteers remotely


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Pat: Good Neighbours Volunteer

Pat from Whitley Bay was in Spain with her husband and dog when the Coronavirus lockdown started to happen and they quickly made their way home. As soon as she returned, Pat started thinking of what she could do to help people in her local community most affected by the crisis.

Pat commented: “I was really keen to do something useful, like most of us, and researched volunteer groups on the internet. I immediately found VODA and the NHS volunteer responders’ scheme and applied for both.  Once the application process started with VODA, like all the other applicants, I became eager to do my first job.”

Since signing up, Pat has undertaken a number of roles for VODA’s COVID-19 Good Neighbours, including delivering shopping for a number of residents as well as an emergency prescription pick up. She has also become a regular shopper for one lady who is nearly 90. Pat is keen to keep this relationship going as the older lady has very little contact with anyone else and has begun to rely on the weekly contact with Pat for her food delivery but also for the weekly telephone call Pat makes to her, checking her food order to make sure she’s ordered enough food for herself for the week.

Reflecting on her experience of signing up as a volunteer with Good Neighbours Pat said: “Every member of staff from VODA has taken the actions the volunteers are doing so personally, it’s like we are doing this for them! In every email and conversation you all make me feel that you are personally grateful for everything I do – I feel so valued and appreciated – as if I am unique and special and doing a brilliant job.  I never expected to feel this from the staff as a volunteer. It’s been brilliant.”

As Pat had more time on her hands than was called upon by the volunteer groups, she decided to help the food banks that she’d heard were desperately in need of donations. Pat asked all her neighbours in the surrounding area of her home if they would like to get involved too, and they did, in a very generous way. She set up a donation bin on her drive and wrote to all her neighbours asking for donations of food to be placed in the bin and offered to collect any donations on Thursday evenings after the Clap for Carers at 8 pm for all those neighbours who couldn’t leave their homes. The neighbours left their donations on their driveways for Pat and husband Tony to collect.  For the last 3 weeks Pat and Tony have delivered car boot’s worth of food to the Bay Foodbank.  This is something they are planning to continue and now have another local street involved. As well as being able to support the food bank, Pat says her neighbours are grateful to be able to contribute to helping others during the pandemic, and it helps with their own wellbeing at the same time.

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Leeds Building Society Charitable Foundation Grant

Organisations working to help those at disadvantage in society can apply for grants of £250 to £1,000 to cover the costs involved in directly supporting those in need including those with disabilities, affected by homelessness, or with serious health issues.

Donations usually fund items of capital expenditure. Registered charities (turnover less than £1m).

Deadline: 3 August

Read more and apply here

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Skills for People’s keeping people connected service North Tyneside

Many people with learning disability and /or autism will become increasingly vulnerable during the current Covid-19 crisis.

If you come across vulnerable people, then please refer them to the new telephone support service:

Keeping People Connected : 0191 281 8737

The service is funded by the North Tyneside CCG and aims to help people by keeping connected with them.

They will receive regular calls from specialist staff to access and support them with understanding, practical issues, and signposting where additional help is needed.

Simply ask the person to call, or if it is easier for them give them the email connected@skillsforpeople.org.uk, or it may be easier if you ask for permission to email them their details and Skills for People will then call/email/text, confirm consent and provide ongoing support.

Even if you are not sure if a person has a learning disability and/or autism but it’s clear they are feeling isolated and in need, you can refer them to this service.

The service has a well-developed assessment process which will enable them to evaluate how safe a person is, what additional help they may need, and then to support them to access that help from existing community services and the voluntary sector.

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Website advice and guidance from Jackdaw

Jackdaw Web Design has been working with a local charity to develop a chat function for their WordPress website so that they can support people who can no longer attend their group or 1-2-1 sessions. They are now hoping to use the experience and knowledge they have gained during this process to benefit the North Tyneside VCS.

If any voluntary organisation is interested in adding online chat to their WordPress website, Jackdaw is willing to provide free advice on the various options available in terms of cost, confidentiality, practical use etc.

Please contact Ian.Dodds@voda.org.uk if you would like to find out more.

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VODA is here to support the VCS during COVID-19

The COVID 19 pandemic has affected everyone, right across the sectors with many VCSE organisations facing major changes, challenges and uncertainty.

However, we want to assure you that despite all of the changes taking place and the obvious prominence of our much expanded Good Neighbours project to support local residents, VODA is still operating a full service, albeit with most of our staff working remotely.

We are still here to offer services and information, advice and guidance to North Tyneside voluntary and community organisations and groups on:

  • Funding Advice
  • Governance
  • Trustees
  • Safeguarding
  • Volunteering
  • Policy Development
  • COVID-19 Recovery Planning
  • Sector Connector

And a whole range of other subjects! If you have any questions, queries or concerns, please get in touch call 0191 6432626 or email admin@voda.org.uk and we will respond as quickly as possible. However, please bear with us if our response takes a little longer than usual.

Meanwhile we will try to keep you all updated on the latest news coming out of the sector both locally and nationally. Keep an eye out on our Facebook and Twitter pages for daily updates and take a look at our COVID-19 Information Centre on our website.

** Please note, team photo was taken before the lockdown at the VODA AGM in November 2019**

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