North Tyneside

VODA 2023 VCSE Award Winners

We are delighted to share with you the recipients of the 2023 VODA North Tyneside VCSE awards, which were presented at our AGM on 7 November. Find out more about each of the winners below.

Trustee of the Year – Ben Appleby Dean – Phoenix Detached Youth Project

Trustee of the Year Ben Appleby Dean (collected by Anne Marron)As Treasurer of Phoenix Detached Youth Project for 12 years, Ben has not only ensured that the charity’s funding is used correctly but he has played a key role in governance of the organisation and ensuring that safeguarding is in place. He is committed to supporting not only Phoenix’s staff but also doing whatever he can for the young people of Riverside and Chirton wards.

The Awards panel felt that Ben has demonstrated commitment and going the extra mile for Phoenix Detached Youth Project helping the Board, management and young people.

Ben was unable to attend on the day, so his award was collected by Phoenix Chair Anne Marron (pictured left with Vicky Smith from VODA).

Volunteer of the Year – Becky Porter – Support and Grow North East

Volunteer of the year Becky PorterBecky has had a wonderful journey as a volunteer with Support and Grow North East. When she first started to volunteer, she had little confidence and only felt able to work outside alone sorting clothing donations. But with the support of the Support and Grow, she gradually started volunteering inside the centre, welcoming other visitors, and using her extensive lived experience to support and encourage others.

Becky is now Centre Supervisor and has found her voice, often advocating on behalf of clients and facilitating peer support groups. She is much loved by the community and all the families that Support and Grow work with and is an inspiration to everyone.

The Awards panel felt that Becky has demonstrated great commitment to her volunteering. She now contributes greatly to the organisation and is an asset to Support and Grow.

Picture shows Becky with Ashleigh Jones from Support and Grow and Vicky Smith from VODA.

Young Volunteer of the Year – James McDonald – Justice Prince CIC

Young volunteer of the year James McDonald James has also had a remarkable journey as a volunteer. James suffered for many years with anxiety and was not been able to leave the house as a result. But he was determined to do something for his local community and started volunteering with Justice Prince CIC. He initially helped with the food bank, unpacking and organising donated food items. One day a week volunteering quickly developed into two, then three and James became a regular volunteer.

Since then, James helped to set up the Longbenton Youth Group and spent many days walking around Longbenton chatting to other teenagers to gain a real understanding of the issues they face and how they could be supported. He now offers support to other young vulnerable adults, helps in the Community Garden and food hub and makes a real difference to the lives of the young people he supports.

The Awards panel felt that James has shown true commitment to volunteering and is an invaluable member of the team at Justice Prince. Picture shows James with Vicky Smith from VODA.

Young Volunteer Special Commendations

There were two nominations in the Young Volunteer of the Year category that the Panel felt were worthy of commendation:

  1. Wallsend Jubilee Primary School ECO Club for the work they have done in volunteering to make their school and the local area a more environmentally friendly place to live in.
  2. Ella and Lloyd from LD:North East for using their volunteering to create, produce, and deliver sessions at LD:North East which have put smiles onto faces and entertained many who would have been alone.

VCSE Organisation of the Year – The Bay Foodbank

VCSE organisation of the year The Bay FoodbankThe Bay Foodbank currently supports between 150-200 people per day through a mixture of emergency food parcels, support of school breakfast clubs, food waste reduction program and support of pantries in schools/nurseries.

This year has seen a massive 55% increase in referrals when compared to last year but there has been a reduction of 80-90% in donations of stock. The Bay Foodbank hasn’t let this deter them and a considerable amount of work has gone in to pivot the organisation into purchasing stock. The volunteers, staff and trustees continue to work tirelessly to help those most in need in North Tyneside and beyond.

The Awards panel felt that The Bay Foodbank demonstrated what an integral part of voluntary sector provision in North Tyneside it is, but that it has shown that it has been able to develop its services and is no longer just a foodbank. Picture shows Joe, Jackie and Maggie from the Bay Foodbank.

David Bavaird Award for Community-Minded Businesses

Rothwell Group

Morgan Sindall PLC

This award was given to Morgan Sindall for their sterling work in providing free-of-charge Mental Health First Aid training to support voluntary and community organisations in North Tyneside.

Rothwell Group

The Rothwell Group has gone above and beyond in supporting voluntary and community organisations in North Tyneside with plumbing work that have enabled community growing projects to develop and thrive.




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Volunteer Fair 2023

Volunteer Fair 2023Saturday 7 October, 10am to 2pm at Park View Shopping Centre, Whitley Bay, NE26 1DG

Join VODA and a whole range of local charities and community groups to find out more about the fantastic volunteering opportunities there are in North Tyneside at our upcoming Volunteer Fair in the Park View Shopping Centre, Whitley Bay.

Try out micro volunteering – give 10 minutes to make a difference by making a card, crafting or planting a seed – all ages can take part in these activities.

If you are looking for something in particular, or just want to learn more about volunteering, pop along between 10am and 2pm and one of our friendly team will be there to help you.

For more information call 0191 643 2626 or email [email protected].

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NT LIFE launches September 2023 prospectus

Lighthouse, angel of the north paintingNT LIFE, the Recovery College for North Tyneside, has launched their new prospectus for September 2023, for sessions beginning week commencing on 4th September and again on 23rd October.

Courses include their Get2Gether drop-in, vegetarian cooking, DBT skills, creative writing, dance, art, book club, photography, emotional regulation toolkit a neurodivergent support group and more. You can view all of their upcoming sessions in the prospectus.

Booking is essential. To get involved, you must first complete the expression of interest form here. The team will contact you and arrange an informal chat and then if you are keen to get involved, they will get you enrolled as a student of NT LIFE and choose the activities or courses you would like to get involved with.

NT LIFE: Helping people learn positive new ways to deal with life’s stresses, understand themselves better and find purpose.


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Exciting start to NT LIFE Recovery College’s fifth year of deliveries

Jess Shaw smilingAs September 2023 approaches, we recognise the growth we have made since our inception in 2019, with only one staff member employed for 3 days/week; NT LIFE has developed and is now proud to welcome a fourth person to the staff team, Jess Shaw.
Congratulations Jess, we are excited to see the progress you will make with us, not least your involvement in our new Neurodivergence Support Group and also in the development of a monthly newsletter. If you would like to contribute anything mental health and wellbeing related to this newsletter please email: [email protected].
Jess who has volunteered at for NT LIFE for 3 years and was previously a Young persons Co-Production worker at VODA’s Discover Me project, transferred to NT LIFE at the beginning of August. Our staff team is now four strong: 2 full time and 2 part-time workers.
Julie BishopWe would also like to acknowledge Julie Bishop in completing her first full year as a paid worker at NT LIFE. Julie has made a huge impact with DBT Skills training, so much so that we have had to create an additional time slot to accommodate the growth in enquiries. She has also used her OCD lived experience to enhance and organise our enrolment and booking system, and developed the Get 2 Gether group, which means time from enquiry to attendance has been drastically shortened to as little as 10 days. We know from feedback that with so many services having long waiting lists, this is a welcomed improvement for our participants. A huge thank you to Julie.
With the increased numbers of staff, NT LIFE can now progress to taking our service to the west of the North Tyneside Borough. Our plan is that in January 2024 we can offer a range of mental health and wellbeing courses and support accessible in the Killingworth, Camperdown, Seaton Burn area with several sessions per week. If you know of anyone is this area that would like to attend a steering group to determine the logistics of this i.e. venue, days, times, topics of interest etc please email [email protected].
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VODA awarded Advanced Good Work Pledge

VODA is delighted to have been awarded the Advanced Good Work Pledge from the North of Tyne Combined Authority. This recognition highlights VODA’s dedication to the five pillars of the pledge, which include health, wellbeing, communication, and social responsibility.

Vicky Smith commented: “As the Chief Executive of VODA, I couldn’t be prouder of our team and the atmosphere we have created. Our primary goal has always been to cultivate an environment where trust, respect, and value are paramount, ensuring that everyone is treated equally. We are committed to being not just a good employer, but also a responsible service provider and a supportive neighbour.”

Receiving the Advanced Good Work Pledge is a testament to VODA’s ongoing efforts to prioritise the welfare and growth of our employees, as well as their commitment to making a positive impact on the community they serve.”

You can read more about the Good Work Pledge here.

Good Work Pledge Advanced logo

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Grow & Eat: Getting North Tyneside Growing!

We’ve had an incredibly busy start to June at the Grow & Eat project, delivering engaging workshops and outreach sessions to residents as well as highlighting #GreatBigGreenWeek.


Oyster Mushroom Workshop

Grow-Eat-Mushroom-WorkshopWe had a brilliant time at our Oyster Mushroom growing workshop at North Tyneside Art Studio in Wallsend. Hosted by our brilliant volunteer Phil McIntyre, five eager participants, learned the art of cultivating Oyster Mushrooms right in the comfort of their own homes. Phil expertly guided them through the step-by-step process, using straw pellets and mushroom spawn he had prepared. The participants left with newfound knowledge and excitement, eager to harvest their own delicious mushrooms. Due to its success, we plan to hold another session later in the year. Make sure to follow our social media channels for updates.


Planter-Building Workshop

Grow-Eat-Planter-WorkshopNext up was our planter-building workshop at the Barn Joinery at Meadow Well Connected. The instructor for the day was Kurt Dempsey and there were participants from YMCA North Tyneside and a volunteer from LD NorthEast. Kurt shared valuable safety tips, demonstrated the proper use of different tools, and showcased various sawing techniques for timber preparation to put tougher our planters for our community gardens.

By utilising recycled pallets, we stayed true to our commitment to the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle principles, ensuring sustainability remains at the heart of our endeavours.


Great Big Green Week

At Grow & Eat, we are deeply conscious of our impact on the climate. That’s why we wholeheartedly embraced the opportunity to take part in the Great Big Green Week from 10th to 18th June.


Wallsend Library Takeover

UPLOADING 4 / 6 – Grow & eat Story time.jpg ATTACHMENT DETAILS Grow-Eat-Library-DisplayThe wonderful team at Wallsend Library was incredibly helpful to Vicky, our Grow & Eat worker, putting up a very informative climate display about the climate and suggesting a range of books for all ages to raise awareness of environmental issues.

Vicky even took the stage during story time, inspiring young listeners and their parents to reflect on their love for the Earth and discover ways to contribute positively.


Engaging with the Community

Grow-eat-Outreach-Hannah-and-VickyDuring the Great Big Green Week, Vicky joined forces with Hannah, our Volunteer Centre Coordinator, to engage with the community of Wallsend at the Forum Shopping Centre.
Together, they distributed over 70 packets of lettuce seeds, generously provided by our wonderful friends at Meadow Well Connected, to give everyone a chance to experience the joy of growing their own fresh greens at home.

Not only that, but they also took the opportunity to shine a light on the incredible North Tyneside community gardens and the fantastic volunteering opportunities they offer. Sharing valuable advice on growing flowers, vegetables, and herbs, inspiring everyone to get involved in their local green spaces.


Start Your Green Journey

Grow-Eat-LettuceRemember, you don’t need a huge garden to embark on this green journey. Even if you only have a windowsill, you can cultivate your very own mini oasis! Join Grow & Eat in cultivating sustainable living practices and experiencing the joy of nurturing nature.

To learn more about the work of Grow & Eat, visit or reach out to Vicky directly at [email protected].

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Screwfix Foundation

The Screwfix Foundation works with both national and local charities, donating much needed funds to help all sorts of projects – from repairing buildings and improving facilities in deprived areas, to decorating the homes of people living with sickness and disabilities.

The Foundation supports projects with grants of up to £5,000 that will fix, repair, maintain and improve properties and community facilities for those in need by reason of financial hardship, sickness, disability, distress or other disadvantage in the UK.

All applications are reviewed individually by our team on a quarterly basis, the review dates are in February, May, August and November.

Read more and apply here

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Royal Quays Community to benefit from a warmer, greener, much-improved community centre thanks to Biffa Award

Linskill and North Tyneside Community Development Trust has secured a £46,251 grant from Biffa Award for its Royal Quays Community Centre Improvement Project.

Biffa Award is a multi-million pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to community and environmental projects across the UK, as part of the Landfill Communities Fund.

The improvement project was awarded funding under Biffa Awards Community Buildings theme. This fabulous and much needed project will make the Centre warmer and greener by replacing old windows to reduce heat loss and carbon emissions, reducing energy costs in the process. Internally facilities will be improved through the provision of new kitchen and toilets, the construction of a community room and with new flooring throughout.

The Trust took over Royal Quays Community Centre on a permanent basis in April 2020 and is committed to meet the needs of local people by providing a variety of groups and activities in the Centre.  Use of the Centre has been hampered by its poor condition, lack of flexible community space and low heat levels which have prevented some of those interested in running activities for the community from doing so. The improvements will attract new groups to the building and provide a better experience for those already using it. The new kitchen will be of particular benefit for delivering a lunch club for older people from the area.

Simeon Ripley the Trust’s CEO said: “We are delighted that Biffa Award has chosen to support the plans we have for improving Royal Quays Community Centre which we developed through consultation with centre users. The improvements will attract more groups and activities to the Centre for local people.  The changes to the windows will reduce heat loss and carbon emissions and the cost savings will help us ensure the centre is financially sustainable”.

Rachel Maidment, Biffa Award Grants Manager, said: “It is so important that we continue to invest in community buildings which are at the heart of their communities. Supporting the project to replace the windows and improve the indoor facilities at the Royal Quays Community Centre will ensure that the community has a fit for purpose building to use for years to come. Projects like this provide the means for a community to thrive.”

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Ground-breaking new Wallsend community hub officially open

For voluntary and community sector organisations costs are a big consideration. The hub offers flexible office spaces and affordable back-office services such as payroll, accountancy, printing, and HR advice to help reduce costs and allow funding to be spent delivering vital services to the borough’s residents instead.

The ground-breaking hub has been made possible thanks to significant investment from North Tyneside Council and the North of Tyne Combined Authority. The North of Tyne Combined Authority has awarded £250,000 for the development of the new hub on the top floor, with a further £50,000 to support its development over the first couple of years.

Norma Redfearn CBE, Elected Mayor of North Tyneside Council, said: “The opening of this innovative hub marks a real step forward for the Voluntary and Community Sector in North Tyneside. A place where organisations can access technology and services to support them to grow and deliver their vital services to our residents.

From the initial plans through the final result everything has been specifically designed with the organisations in mind. I’m extremely proud of what we’ve achieved working with VODA and North of Tyne Combined Authority on this project. I’m certain it will be well used.”

Robin Fry, Chief Executive, VODA and North of Tyne Combined Authority Mayoral Ambassador for the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector, said: “Our ambition is to create a dynamic Community Hub that becomes the centre of excellence for Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector (VCSE) organisations across the borough.

“We know how vital a strong VCSE sector is to the health and happiness of people living in North Tyneside. The Hub will offer a range of affordable ‘back-office’ services such as payroll, accountancy, printing, and HR advice.

Mayor for the North of Tyne, Jamie Driscoll, said: “There are no ‘frontline services’ without ‘back offices’. Our local voluntary sector does invaluable work, often with vulnerable residents. But thriving community organisations have basic needs. These might be IT or payroll services, decent tech, or office and meeting space. Funding this hub will help charities and community groups focus more resources on residents – and less on rent and office overheads.”

Wallsend Community First Centre is already a thriving hub of vital services. As well as a library and customer services ran by the council, the ground floor is home to care and connect, Citizens Advice bureau, NHS recovery Partnership Team and most recently, Wallsend Neighbourhood Policing Team.

VODA’s sector connector project will also be based on the first floor, helping to draw in additional pro-bono support from businesses including master classes, mentoring, and maximising volunteer opportunities.


For more information on accessing the services of the hub, please contact Katie Snowdon at [email protected].

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Special community reflection areas open in North Tyneside

With help from the local community, areas of reflection and contemplation have been created by North Tyneside Council and were officially unveiled today (18 July).

Special reflection spaces have been created in five areas across North Tyneside – all connected to the borough’s 30-mile waggonway network.

The areas are places where people can visit to remember the loved ones that they tragically lost during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as offering a space to reflect on the impact the pandemic had on us all and remember the ways in which people came together to support one another.

Earlier in the year, the central site opened at Silverlink Biodiversity Park and now the four other sites were officially unveiled today (18 July) at Killingworth Lakeside Park; Wallsend Hall grounds; Redburn Dene Park in North Shields; and Souter Park in Whitley Bay.

All of the reflection areas are based around the theme of a compass, detailed in decorative hard landscaped paving, with seating provided and natural planting, and local businesses helped to create them.

And the final four sites are particularly special as residents chose the designs for the centre of each of the compasses during the pandemic.

Drawn by a local artist, the designs are unique to the areas in which they’re located and include George Stephenson’s locomotive, St Mary’s Lighthouse, fishing and shipbuilding.

Chair of the Council, Cllr Pat Oliver opened the areas today, she said: “I am honoured to be opening these reflection and contemplation spaces and to be joined by many people from the community. These areas are for each and every one of us and all of our residents.

“There is a special significance behind the compass design – the word compass combines the two Latin words – ‘com’ which means together and ‘passus, meaning pace of step. Together, they can be taken to mean ‘journey together’, and this is something North Tyneside did throughout the pandemic. Community spirit certainly shone through.

“It was hugely important to the council that residents had an opportunity to be involved in their design and I would like to thank those who provided their views.

“Sites that link with the beautiful waggonways were chosen after they were so well used by the public during the pandemic, and we would really like to encourage people to get out and about exploring the routes and each reflection space. It’s a great day out and has many benefits for both your health and your wellbeing.”

To encourage the waggonways continued use, the council has produced maps so that cyclists, walkers and wheelchair users can easily navigate their way between each or all of the sites.

Community Interest Company (CIC) Bike4Health, which works to make cycling a part of everyday life for people across the North East were also at the opening. They led a ride from the area in Killingworth Lakeside Park to the area in Wallsend Hall grounds with children from Hadrian Park Primary School.

Director David Buchan said: “It’s great to be involved in the opening of these brilliant areas.

“North Tyneside is very lucky to have a beautiful 30-mile waggonway which can be explored easily on bike or foot and these reflection areas are a welcomed addition.

“Many cyclists use their rides as a time to reflect and clear their minds and take in their surroundings, just like you can do at these sites. I really hope people spend time cycling to a couple of the sites – or even take on the challenge to reach each one! We’re looking forward to doing so with the schools we work with.”

They were also joined by children from Grasmere Academy who read out their own reflections on the pandemic. Key Enterprises, a North Tyneside-based charity, attended with people involved in their cycling group, and local ward councillors and faith and community leaders were there too.

The sites in the other areas of the borough brought together children from Richardson Dees Primary School, people who volunteered during the pandemic, LD North East, and Whitley Bay and Monkseaton Bowling Club.

More information, including maps of the routes to the reflection areas, can be found here.

For more information about Bike4Health visit

First published here by North Tyneside Council on 18 July 2022

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