St Vincent’s Newcastle launches an ambitious £7,000 Fundraiser to cover travel costs and ensure access for all to essential support and services. This year has seen St Vincent’s Newcastle flourish as a centre in the heart of the city, meeting the needs of approximately 450 people every week, with numbers growing steadily. People experiencing hardship come from all walks of life, not only for help with immediate needs in the form of emergency food packs, clothing, and toiletries, but also for support and signposting to housing, legal, benefits and health services.

The St Vincent’s Newcastle community is a diverse one, including the homeless, asylum seekers and refugees, people struggling to make ends meet, in fact anyone experiencing challenging and life limiting circumstances, and the support offered at the centre doesn’t end once immediate needs are met. This year the team launched a whole new framework of opportunities aimed at helping people move on with their lives and develop new skills. From ESOL, essential life skills and wellbeing workshops, to focused employment pathways, everyone who comes to the Centre has the potential to take part and the offer of support to grow with dignity, as a valued individual with unique skills to develop and share.

The team at St Vincent’s Newcastle have also recently extended their reach into the west end of the city, with a newly launched Community Support Project located at the Newcastle Deaf Centre. Encompassing the deaf community, this unique space will develop to ensure people have greater access to training and opportunities, while sharing experiences and building connections. While it’s clear the demand for St Vincent’s services is high and increasing all the time as we face the cost of living crisis, one of the biggest challenges faced by people who desperately want to access these life changing opportunities is painfully simple. Travelling to the Centre on a severely restricted budget – in some cases as little as £1 a day for a whole family – is just unfeasible.

Behzad is an asylum seeker who comes from Denton Burn to attend ESOL classes twice a week at the Centre. If the Centre was unable to cover his travel costs, he would have to walk for 1 hour and 22 minutes, and the same on the way back. Bezad is hugely grateful for the opportunity not only to learn English, but also be with other people, embed in his new community and make friends.

Asylum seekers like Behzad live well below the current poverty line, at under £6 per day. With return travel costs approaching an average of £4 – £5, catching the bus to attend appointments, school, or classes is not an option. While St Vincent’s has always tried to cover travel costs for clients and volunteers, demand is outstripping the available budget, and the team are deeply concerned.

Speaking of the issue, Centre Manager Rebecca commented, “We see so often that travel costs present a barrier for people accessing our services – particularly for those seeking sanctuary who are accommodated in local hotels – they have no money to cover travel costs, yet are so keen to attend an English Language class which will help them to integrate, or a ladies group, where they can socialise and feel less isolated”

Maeve is a longtime volunteer at the Centre, and an absolute asset. Despite having experienced mental health issues including profound anxiety, she supports the work of the Centre in myriad ways and recently was able to lead her own craft workshop with a group of clients. As a single mum in receipt of benefits, it would be almost impossible for Maeve to offer her time and skills as part of the St Vincent’s Newcastle community without having her travel costs covered.

”Attending the sessions at St Vincent’s has really helped me with my mental health, without the help of claiming my travel expenses I wouldn’t have the spare money to really even leave my home never mind join groups where I can feel supported and listened to.” – Maeve, volunteer.

Please consider a donation to St Vincent’s ambitious appeal – even a single bus fare can lead to life-changing opportunities.

“To achieve the target for travel expenses will be wonderful and will demonstrate the community coming together to support those seeking support and connection in the city” – Rebecca, Centre Manager

To make a donation visit the JustGiving page here.

If you would like any more information you can call our St Vincent’s Newcastle on 0191 2616027.

”Attending the sessions at St Vincent’s has really helped me with my mental health, without the help of claiming my travel expenses I wouldn’t have the spare money to really even leave my home never mind join groups where I can feel supported and listened to.”

Maeve, volunteer.