Dozens of adults with learning disabilities across Newcastle are getting the chance to try a range of new activities thanks to a new initiative from a city charity and a four-figure grant from the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation.
Cornerstone Benwell has set up its weekly Welcome Project where around 25 service users and their carers from across Newcastle are trying out everything from chocolate making and cookery through to making Christmas crafts and bath bombs.
The charity has used the £3,000 Newcastle Building Society grant to buy all the extra facilities, materials and ingredients required for the sessions, with bread and cheese tastings set to take place in the coming weeks.
The funding is being provided through the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, which offers grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network.
Along with the new group, Cornerstone Benwell runs a wide range of community support programmes and projects from its Armstrong Road headquarters, including the Corner Kitchen Community Café, the Benwell Bridge Food Pantry and the Corner Shop Preloved Shop
It also operates an emergency food bank, runs baby/toddler and children’s clubs and offers technology, employment and college support to any local people that need their help.
Amy Proud, operations manager at Cornerstone, says: “Through the Welcome Project, we’re providing our learners with the chance to take part in activities and experiences which most of us would take for granted, but which might otherwise not be available to them, and it’s been a real success so far.
“The sensory elements we introduce each week give learners the chance to experience new tastes, smells and textures, and their response is wonderful to see.
“As well as giving learners the chance to try new things, our Welcome Project is also helping them make new friends and increasing their confidence.
“They’re always excited to be going home to show their families what they’ve made each week, while their carers are also really keen to be part of the sessions we’re putting on.
“Any charity will tell you that finding funding is a real challenge at the moment and takes an awful lot of time out of their day, so being awarded this grant by Newcastle Building Society will make a big difference to our service in lots of different ways.”
Joanne Mercer, chief internal auditor at Newcastle Building Society, who recently visited Cornerstone, adds: “This is a terrific project that touches on lots of different areas and ideas, and the positive impact it’s having with learners, carers and families is very clear.
“We’re always keen to support the work of charities in our home city and it’s great to be able to add Cornerstone to the long list of local organisations that we’re helping to deliver their invaluable services in our city communities.”
Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund at the Community Foundation has also contributed over £2.3m in grants and partnerships to a wide variety of charities and projects across the region, including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Prince’s Trust.
The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 151,000 people.