Lottery money for Customs House youth work

Published: 28 January 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan

The Customs House has received almost £10,000 of lottery funding to run three term-time creative projects with looked-after children (children who are fostered or have experience of living in care) in South Tyneside. The Treasure Group, as it is called, will work alongside professional artists and visit arts events and the children taking part will also have the chance to achieve an Arts Award, which is a nationally recognised qualification.

This work originally began as part of a national pilot project with Arts Council England, supported by South Tyneside Council Fostering Services and The PLACE (Project for Looked After Children's Education) and has continued with support from various charitable trusts and foundations.

Elizabeth Kane, Learning Officer at The Customs House, met with Big Lottery Funding Officer Linda Yeo late last year and was advised to apply for an Awards for All grant from the Big Lottery Fund, which gives awards up to £10,000.

“I was so happy we were successful!” Elizabeth Kane said. “While writing the bid, we talked about how this project will really develop looked after children’s confidence and self-belief. They, like all young people, can make great work and achieve great things.

“We also want our community to celebrate their achievements. After each project we will have a showcase event sharing what they have achieved. So, if they do a visual art project we would host an exhibition. If they do a writing project, we might make and publish a book. It all depends on what they want to do.”

In 2018/19, The Treasure Group were given the chance to try out different arts activities, including animation with Sheila Graber (funded by The Rotary Club of Jarrow with Harton), painting with David Wilkinson, (The Children’s Foundation) and exploring local heritage through photography with Nicola Maxwell (The Heritage Lottery Fund).

“It will be interesting to see if The Treasure Group want to try out a totally new art form, like writing, dance or clay,” Kane added, “or build on something they have already tried.

“The Big Lottery Fund has given us an incredible opportunity to work with children over a year and make a positive difference to them as individuals and our community. Every time you buy a National Lottery ticket, you help make this happen.”

The new year-long programme starts in March.