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New service for young carers

A new service to support young carers has been commissioned by Northumberland County Council. Carers Northumberland, the local support service for adult carers will be leading on the project.

Anne-Marie Johnstone has been appointed as the Young Carers Support Worker for Northumberland and will be working with other youth and young people’s services across the county to provide individual tailored support for young carers.

The aims of the project are to ensure that children and young people have the support they need to learn, develop, and thrive, to enjoy positive childhoods and to achieve their full potential.

The service uses a whole family approach, which ensures that both children and parents are able to get the support they need, at the right time. By identifying problems early, different services can work more closely together to help prevent a family’s needs escalating and requiring further intervention at a later date.

All young carers will have an assessment of their needs which identifies the level of caring and how this is impacting on their life. A plan will then be developed with the young carer and their family to help support them and enable the young carer to access the same life opportunities as their peers.

Young carers referred to the project will also have access to a Young Carers Active Northumberland card for use in the county’s leisure centres, and a small grants scheme which will offer financial support to young carers to take a break from their caring responsibilities.

Anyone who is working with a family or young person in a caring role who you think could benefit from this project can make a referral here.

If you are a young carer yourself you can find out about the support available here.

Group of people walking outdoors

Funding success for Talking Matters

Talking Matters Northumberland and project partner Active Northumberland (with support from Northumberland Sport) has been given £142,000 of National Lottery funding from Sport England to help volunteers make a positive contribution to mental health outcomes in the county, using sport and physical activity.

Sport England’s ‘Opportunity Fund’ encourages people to volunteer to help tackle challenges their communities face. Projects are being funded in areas that may experience economic disadvantage, ranging from inner-city areas with high levels of crime and social exclusion, to remote rural areas with few services. By getting involved, the volunteers will also benefit by developing their own skills, confidence plus improved wellbeing.

About the project

The three year project will enable Talking Matters, who provide the NHS Talking Therapy service in Northumberland, to recruit volunteers from the local community to help adults with mental health issues take up a sport or physical activity. Talking Matters will employ two Volunteer Coordinators based in Hexham and Alnwick who will recruit and manage the volunteers. The volunteers will support adults of all ages, referred to them by Talking Matters or their GP. The volunteers, who will be fully trained, will provide one to one support to encourage people to participate in a sport or physical activity as a way of improving their mental health.

Steve Patterson of Talking Matters says, “There is a growing body of evidence that being physically active is good for your mental health as it can help recovery, build resilience and sustain good mental wellbeing.  However, that first step is often the hardest, particularly for individuals who may be anxious, lack self confidence, worry about meeting new people or have other worries such as body image or low fitness levels. By supporting individuals on a one to one basis, the volunteers will help them find an activity that is right for them.  Working together the volunteers will help people overcome their concerns and support them on their journey to full and active participation in a sport or physical activity.”

Project partners Active Northumberland will work with the volunteers, sports clubs, leisure centres and other activity providers (yoga, keep fit, walking, cycling groups etc.) to identify suitable opportunities in the local community.

As part of the project Tyneside and Northumberland Mind will provide Sport England approved ‘Mental Health Awareness for Sports and Physical Activity’ training to sports and activity providers to improve their support for individuals with mental health issues. The training will help the sports community achieve the Sport and Recreation Alliance Mental Health Charter.

Northumberland County Council has awarded the project a grant of £30,000 and further financial support has come from Northumberland Sport and Hexham and Alnwick Town Councils. Public Health Northumberland. Northumberland CCG, Northumberland and Tyne & Wear Foundation Trust and Northumberland National Park Authority have all added their support to the project. Local sports clubs and GP practices have also supported the project bid.

Northumberland County Councillor, Veronica Jones, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Adult Wellbeing and Health says, “This funding award from Sport England  is really great news for the county. It provides us with a fantastic opportunity to use volunteering and social action as part of an exciting new approach to supporting adults experiencing mental health issues. Regular exercise has been proven to have a profoundly positive impact on depression and anxiety. In fact, being active is one of the most important things people can do to maintain health and wellbeing. We are looking forward to working with, and supporting all those involved in this new project.”

Sport England’s Director of Sport, Phil Smith, says, “When people volunteer in sport and physical activity there is a dual benefit – volunteers help others in their communities to get active, as well as benefiting themselves. Volunteering can do wonders for job and career prospects, mental health and making friends. That’s why volunteering sits at the heart of Sport England’s new strategy, ‘Towards an Active Nation’. We’re delighted to be helping Talking Matters and Active Northumberland to enable more volunteers to be the catalysts for change in their neighbourhood.”

The project was the brainchild of Gordon Allan who following the loss of his wife Sally in 2015 has become an advocate for improving mental health in the north east. Gordon, who lives in Northumberland, was instrumental in pulling the project together and building the support from the various stakeholders. He says, “The project has been funded by individuals through the National Lottery. We are grateful for their support and look forward to giving something back by improving mental health outcomes in the county. With the support of the local communities we believe that over three years we can help over 1,500 people. I know walking has helped me when I have been struggling to cope with the loss of Sally”.

To find out more about thee project contact Talking Matters.


Prudhoe Waterworld

Drop-in Session: Prudhoe Waterworld

Lesley is at Prudhoe Waterworld on Tuesday 21st November, with a drop-in session for members of the public. She will be armed with information on Healthwatch Northumberland, what we do and how we can help you. There will be the opportunity to give anonymous feedback about your health and social care experiences, positive or negative, which will be passed back to the commissioners and providers. You can also leave feedback online

Stop and say hello if you’re in the centre on Tuesday; if you’re lucky you may be given one of our fabulous freebies!