‘Lifeline’ youth group in deprived community boosted by 5% Pledge donation

‘Lifeline’ youth group in deprived community boosted by 5% Pledge donation

Published 13 February 2023

A north-east youth group which offers a lifeline to struggling families has received a major boost from Darlington Building Society.

The Society has donated £3,000 from their 5% Pledge fund to support the work of a community youth group in Liverton Mines, near Saltburn.

The youth group was founded in 2011 by the town’s St Hilda’s Church, which has since closed and relocated services to the village hall. However, staff and volunteers continue to run the youth club, alongside a variety of activities and support services.

The group was founded by Alan Gardner and his wife Marian who was the church’s vicar before her retirement.

Alan said: “Liverton Mines is one of the most deprived areas in the country, in the bottom eight per cent in terms of wealth, and a lot of families in the area rely on the youth group. We support around 65 kids on our books now, and around 40 adults.

“We run the youth group four nights a week, providing a hot cooked dinner every week for the kids to take some of the pressure off parents. We also provide a warm space once a fortnight, we do food parcels, and it’s all free to local families. Our next initiative will be doing a regular big breakfast.

“It’s wonderful to receive such a generous gift from Darlington Building Society. We depend on grants like this to carry on. It’s fantastic that an organisation like this wants to support the communities it operates in.”

The £3,000 donation was part of Darlington Building Society’s pledge to invest 5 per cent of its profits back into worthy causes in the areas it serves.

Young people attending the youth group are expected to follow a set of very clear rules, such as no swearing, no fighting, and showing mutual respect.

“Anti-social behaviour from youngsters was a problem in the area before the group started up,” Alan added. “But there has been a marked improvement now the kids have somewhere to go, and there are so many people trusting them to make good decisions.”

Anne Lennon, the project’s youth and families leader said: “It’s just wonderful to see how much pleasure the kids get from simple things. It is a lot of work, but it is worthwhile when they want to keep coming back.

“The biggest impact we try to make is to improve their outlook, and their opinion of themselves. We try to show them how much they can achieve, and to foster their self-esteem and self-confidence.”

The Society’s donation will primarily be used to support the club’s running costs, but some has been put aside for a special treat.

“We’re hoping to organise a special trip to York for everyone,” said Anne. “Lots of the kids love trains, so we want to take them to the National Railway Museum. We are very grateful to Darlington Building Society for supporting our work. Without organisations helping like this, the youth group just wouldn’t exist.”



Group pic: Children, volunteers, and staff at Liverton Mines Youth Group show off their creations made during an arts and crafts session

Mason Glass, Brooklyn Taylor, Archie Hudson, Sky Darbyshire, and Leland Taylor attend the group regularly, and never fail to have good time

You can learn more about Darlington Building Society’s 5% Pledge, including how to nominate a charity or good cause, here.

  • Find out about how to access Liverton Mines Youth Group by emailing alan@thegardners.org.uk