Charity celebrates 25 years transforming lives with an expansion

A charity that has helped regenerate disadvantaged communities through creative education for 25 years has an extra reason to celebrate its milestone birthday.

Having spent a quarter of a century transforming opportunities for young people, Kids Kabin, which is based in the North East of England, has now been awarded funding to allow it to expand its work elsewhere in the region.

The Newcastle-based charity works with children and young people in economically disadvantaged areas to teach practical, hands-on skills that boost their sense of self-worth and confidence, as well as helping them address local issues. And following a successful pilot in the Grove Hill area of Middlesbrough, the organisation has now received a funding boost that will mean it can develop a long-term presence in the town.

Charity manager Will Benson explained:

“Thousands of children live in disadvantaged communities in the North East of England and struggle to succeed in education and then in employment as they grow up. A lack of success and feelings of failure can have a serious negative effect on children’s opportunities in life, their self-esteem and their mental health.

“Our aim has always been to give all children and young people the chance to fulfil their potential by nurturing their talent. So we’re excited to have the chance to support even more young people in a new area of significant need.”

Charity celebrates 25 years transforming lives with an expansion
Front right – Kids Kabin’s Will Benson with some of the children and families involved in the project

Kids Kabin, which has worked with up to 10,000 children since it was formed in 1994, started life in an empty shop unit in Walker, Newcastle, but now uses a fleet of bicycle trailers made by young people with the support of the Kids Kabin team to bring its many activities to those most in need. These trailers allowed it to run regular pilot taster street workshop sessions in Grove Hill, with the support of local organisations, using a mobile kitchen, portable pottery wheel and woodworking bench.

Will said:

“The community in Grove Hill has been very welcoming and positive about Kids Kabin. In fact, our longevity is entirely down to the support we’ve received from the communities in which we work, so this expansion really does mean such a lot.

“We’re incredibly proud of all the young people and families involved both across Newcastle and in Middlesbrough, many of whom still support us as volunteers. And it’s a real privilege that we’re able to share this great news and this milestone birthday with so many people who’ve made Kids Kabin part of their lives. We’re really looking forward to the next chapter in the Kids Kabin story.”

Kids Kabin’s ‘hub and satellite’ model will now be adopted in Middlesbrough, helping break down barriers due to geography, perception, fear or lack of confidence. And in future, the charity could expand outside the North East.

Paul Hastings, 13, has been attending Kids Kabin sessions since he was eight years old and has become a skilled woodworker, even making a special chair for his younger brother who suffers from spina bifida. He’s now hoping to become a young volunteer.

Mum Sarah said:

“The stuff Paul has made and done there – I’m so proud, and it’s really boosted his confidence. He was a bit of a loner really and never used to come out of his bedroom much. Now you can’t keep him away from Kids Kabin and he gets on with people much better.”

Sarah said that Paul has not only learned new skills but is also becoming more independent as a result of his weekly sessions.

She added:

“He loves to show people what to do. He’s even shown his 17-year-old sister how to cook and his seven-year-old sister is now desperate to go to Kids Kabin too.”

Mia Anderson, 12, found out about Kids Kabin through a school assembly four years ago and is also planning on becoming a young volunteer.

Mum Marianne said:

“As a working parent I’ve found it reassuring to know she’s safe and happy at Kids Kabin, and the opportunities she’s had have been amazing.

“She loves arts and crafts and making and doing and her self-esteem is brilliant now. She’s always been quite quiet but now she joins in and puts herself forward. Kids Kabin has given her the confidence to do that and to take more of a lead. I really do think it’s fantastic.”

Noor Amer, 18, a Kids Kabin volunteer for the last three years agrees.

She said:

“No two children are the same. I’ve seen children being friends at Kids Kabin when out on the street they can’t be because of peer pressure. But they all have so much potential – you sometimes don’t see this out on the street when they’re all trying to impress their friends and act the same. But if you give them the opportunity, they can do brilliant things.”

Noor is now considering a career working with children and young people and is glad to be working with Kids Kabin to find creative solutions to issues in her local community such as anti-social behaviour.

Kids Kabin works with around 120 children each week and more than 1,000 each year, with regular trips, camps and residentials further afield. It is now looking to recruit team members and volunteers to help support its work in Middlesbrough.

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