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Northumberland leads the way on creating opportunities for young people to volunteer

Thursday, 16 August, 2018
Northumberland leads the way on creating opportunities for young people to volunteer

A national initiative to create opportunities for young people to volunteer in their own communities has been launched in Northumberland at Alnwick Castle.

As the sole ‘beacon area’ for social action in the region, and one of only 20 trusts in the country to deliver the Pears #iwill Fund project, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has recruited 15 young people to spend time with older people in their own homes to help combat loneliness.

It is the first time the trust, recognised throughout the country for its volunteering success, has facilitated young people volunteering in the community.

The scheme, launched by the Duchess of Northumberland, will improve the health and wellbeing of vulnerable older people in the county and support young people in developing knowledge and improving skills through social action that will benefit them throughout their lives.

The young people aged 16 to 18, from the Duchess’s High School in Alnwick, and James Calvert Spence College in Amble, are befriending older people at Weavers’ Court extra care scheme in Alnwick with plans to recruit more young volunteers from across Northumberland and North Tyneside. By 2020, the trust hopes to have taken on 200 volunteers as part of the broader Pears #iwill Fund project to enable young people to volunteer within the NHS.

The project is funded by the Pears #iwill Fund, a partnership fund created by the Big Lottery Fund, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Pears Foundation, to support the goals of the #iwill campaign to make meaningful social action part of life for 10 to 20-year-olds by the year 2020.

It has been developed to improve the lives of the estimated up to 12,000 people in Northumberland who feel lonely often, or always, with this figures expected to rise significantly in the future. It is being run in conjunction with the trust’s district nurses and social care support teams.

Jim Mackey, chief executive at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said:  “As a trust with a strong track record of creating opportunities for people of all ages to volunteer, I am extremely proud that we are spearheading this hugely exciting national project here in the North East.

“For many years our volunteers have added immeasurable value to our patients, our staff and our organisation as a whole, carrying out a wide range of roles in our hospitals.

“We’re delighted to branch out, for the first time, to enable young people living in Northumberland and North Tyneside to volunteer with older people in their own homes, in their own communities.

“With more and more older people feeling lonely, this is a hugely important intergenerational project which will improve the health and wellbeing of older people while giving young people vital life skills.”

Her Grace the Duchess of Northumberland, who is an avid supporter of volunteering, said: “Volunteers provide vital help to individuals, charities and organisations in our community and I am pleased that the first volunteers for this excellent new project have been recruited from the Alnwick and Amble areas, and I am so pleased it’s been launched here at Alnwick Castle.

“It’s so important that young people are given opportunities to play a greater role in their own communities and I wholeheartedly support this scheme which enables them to learn new skills and gain valuable experience in health and social care, both of which will stand them in good stead for the future.

“I wish the volunteers every success in their new roles and thank the trust and the project’s funders for setting this up.”

Following robust training, the young people will spend time with older people in their own homes and give a helping hand around the house.

Ciara Healy, 17, from the Duchess’s High School is one of the volunteers taking part in the scheme.

Ciara, from Alnwick, said: “I just want to help out in my community and make an older person’s day a little bit better.

“I visited residents in a care home when I was in middle school and really enjoyed it and now that I’m older, and more confident, I feel that I will be able to engage with the older people more.

“I’m really looking forward to getting to know the people at Weavers’ Court and hearing their stories.”

Media contact:

Jaclyn Curry – Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

0191 203 1654 / 07833 046680

Notes to editors

#iwill campaign

  • The #iwill campaign is a collective effort involving over 800 partners from across the public, voluntary, education and business sectors with a vision to make meaningful social action part of life for 10- to 20-year olds by the year 2020, wherever they live and whatever their background.
  • The #iwill campaign was launched in 2013 with cross-party and cross-sector support after research into how the business, education, public and voluntary sectors could support young people to engage in social action. The campaign is coordinated by Step Up To Serve, a charity registered in England & Wales (no. 1154588).
  • HRH The Prince of Wales is Patron of Step Up To Serve and the #iwill campaign. For more information, visit and follow @iwill_campaign
  • In addition to working with the Pears Foundation #iwill Fund for hospital trusts, Step Up To Serve, NHS England, NHS Improvement and the Pears Foundation are working with seven ‘Beacon Areas’ across England that are prepared to take the lead on showcasing and promoting the impact young people can have on health and social care throughout 2018: Birmingham, Bristol, South East London, Newcastle, Sheffield, Dorset and Suffolk.

Big Lottery Fund

  • The Big Lottery Fund uses money raised by National Lottery players to help communities achieve their ambitions. From small, local projects to UK-wide initiatives, our funding brings people together to make a difference to their health, wellbeing and environment. Since June 2004 we have awarded £8.5 billion to projects that improve the lives of millions of people.
  • For more information and contact details please visit

Pears Foundation

  • Pears Foundation is an independent family foundation rooted in Jewish values. Led by the Pears family with the support of a full-time professional team, Pears Foundation’s activities are focused on understanding complex issues, engaging people in achieving social progress and promoting wellbeing. Pears Foundation invests around £15million each year in a wide range of charitable organisations and causes, remaining closely involved with their partners to support and guide them in the pursuit of their goals.

Department of Culture Media and Sport

  • The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) helps to drive growth, enrich lives and promote Britain abroad. They protect and promote our cultural and artistic heritage and help businesses and communities to grow by investing in innovation and highlighting Britain as a fantastic place to visit.

Karbon Homes

  • Karbon Homes, which manages Weavers’ Court, provides social, affordable, specialised, shared ownership and market rented homes, and also develop shared ownership and market sale homes.
  • As a housing association, they own or manage approaching 30,000 properties across the North East of England and Yorkshire, including a number of bungalows, flats and retirement living schemes for older people.