North East charity announces growth plans following £500,000 funding boost

Leading North East charity, The Key (, has announced ambitious growth plans that will see its work increase in the region and extend across other areas of the UK following a £500,000 investment from independent funder, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Founded in 1992, The Key works with a network of over 110 member organisations to provide young people aged 11-25 with the opportunities and support to deliver their own inspirational, youth-led projects that help their future education, training, careers and personal development.

Austin McNamara, Interim CEO at The Key, said:

“Thanks to the support from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The Key will be able to help more young people facing challenging circumstances in the North East and across the country to believe in themselves and realise their full potential.

“We are passionate about giving young people the power to pursue their own ideas and create their own futures. Working in partnership with our members, we help thousands of young people every year to deliver projects that make a real difference to them and their communities.

“The funding we have received will help us extend the use of our hugely successful Key Framework so that even more young people have the chance to develop the skills and self-confidence that will support them in all areas of their life.”

North East charity announces growth plans following £500,000 funding boost
The Key project, Runaway Samba, delivered with Jack Drum Arts in Crook, Durham

The Key Framework empowers young people by providing them with the opportunity to develop a set of 12 personal, relationship and task orientated skills that cover everything from learning how to work in a team to decision-making and problem-solving. Each individual skill is designed to benefit young people as they progress through education and training into adult life and employment.

Ruth Pryce, Head of Programme: Investing in Young People at Paul Hamlyn Foundation said:

“Paul Hamlyn Foundation is delighted to be funding The Key who are ready to implement an ambitious scaleup plan with a strong emphasis on learning and a culture of continuous improvement.

“This growth is focused on increasing impact and represents a step-change for the organisation in terms of greater reach and quality of its work supporting young people to realise their potential.”

The Key currently works with over 110 members from right across the North East. In 2018, 1,465 young people delivered 361 projects, benefitting 13,804 members of the community.

Recent projects include a Remembrance Day art installation developed by a group of three young people from the Berwick Detachment of the Northumbria Army Cadet Force. The group created hundreds of handmade poppies to decorate their local Drill Hall in memory of soldiers that lost their lives during WW1 and WW2.

Another project saw three young adults with learning disabilities from Birtley, Gateshead, plan, organise and deliver their own inclusive Zumba classes to help other young people with learning disabilities access sport and improve their health and wellbeing.

Austin McNamara continued: “All of the skills and qualities that young people develop by working with The Key help them in the classroom, in the workplace, in the community and in their family life too.

“Whether it’s learning how to manage a budget, dealing with a difficult situation or just coming out of their comfort zone, the experience we give them is designed to inspire them to flourish and thrive in whatever they choose to do.”

For more information about The Key, visit

For more information about the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, visit