Pioneering charity saves community centre through unveiling its new HQ

Amanda Maskery, Partner at Sintons, is also Chair of pioneering charity Family Gateway, which supports some of the most vulnerable families in Tyneside and Northumberland. The charity has recently moved into a new headquarters, which has also ensured that a community resource has been safeguarded from closure.

A charity which supports vulnerable and troubled families in turning their lives around has taken over a closure-threatened community facility in North Tyneside, safeguarding its future with plans to make it into a hub for local people.

Family Gateway, an award-winning charity which tackles deep-rooted issues within families, has taken over the running of Howdon Community Centre.

The facility will be known as the Family Gateway Hub @ Howdon, and as well as housing the headquarters of the charity, will offer a range of opportunities for the local community, including a café, charity shop, exercise classes, a gym, and an events space for hire.

The community centre, formerly run by North Tyneside Council, had been under threat of closure, but its future as a community resource has now been secured. Extensive consultation is now being carried out by Family Gateway with local people to establish what they would like to see on offer at the hub.

Family Gateway works across North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Northumberland to engage directly with families, many of whom fall through the gaps in support from traditional agencies, to help empower them to turn their lives around and find a route out of their situation.

The charity frequently attracts national attention for its unique ‘barefoot professional’ model – whereby it employs local parents who have overcome personal troubles, and can therefore understand and engage with the families they are tasked to support – and most recently was hailed as being “pioneering” by rapper Professor Green, who chose Family Gateway to feature in his BBC1 documentary about poverty.

Pauline Wonders, strategic director at Family Gateway, said: “As well as being a great base for our outreach work, which sees us directly engage with families across a huge geographical area, the fact we can help safeguard this as a resource for the local community in Howdon is a huge benefit.

“We couldn’t just stand by and watch this centre being closed down and left standing derelict – we believe passionately that this was built for the community and it should always be used for that purpose.

“This centre could play such a central role in the community and could offer so much, and we plan to make it just that. We want our Howdon Hub to be somewhere that offers things for local people so they will want to come here. We have already consulted widely with the community, although we’re keen to hear even more opinions so would urge people to get in touch.

“It is also an important base for Family Gateway and our work throughout the region. Our work extends across the community, engaging directly with families to tackle their issues and help them bring about lasting changes that improve life chances for children. We cover a very sizeable geographical area, but this will enable us to have a focal point for all of our work. We are a very close team and are committed to working together to help our families, so having such a super new base will help us to drive forward our ambitions.”

Amanda Maskery, Chair of Family Gateway, added: “Family Gateway has a national reputation for tackling issues at their very root, and in doing so, enabling families to turn their lives around and help themselves out of their situations. The move into new headquarters not only safeguards a valued community facility, but also allows us scope to push on with our plans to support even more families.”

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