5 school students stand infront of their school building

Off The Grid Adventures, a community group in Hebburn, South Tyneside has been helping young people get active following the first Covid-19 lockdown. Their Community Activators project, funded by People’s Health Trust using money raised by Health Lottery North-East and Cumbria, was led by 10 young volunteers who will now go on to work with the community group as Community Coaches.

Around 75 young people have taken part in the project which hosted activities such as archery, tomahawk throwing, bushcraft, camping, and outdoor cooking. Alongside Project Lead, Paul Kirkpatrick, 10 young people from Hebburn St Joseph’s helped design and deliver the activities.

Paul Kirkpatrick said:

“I was keen on getting support from local people for the project, it’s always better if you have people that live in the streets where the project is based. I met these 10 young people from the local school who were so enthusiastic and had a real drive to make a difference in their community. You can’t teach that, I was so lucky to find people who had that drive in them already.”

The volunteers, all aged 17 or 18, planned and delivered over 20 activity sessions between them. Whilst volunteering they all completed AQA Level 2 Youth Leadership Award and seven have stayed with the project gaining employment as Project Coaches.

Volunteer Aaron Singh, aged 18, said:

“Working with this project has been a great experience, you feel like you make a real difference when you’re out there delivering activity sessions “

The newly employed members of staff have been focusing on securing funding to be able to host new projects next year. One of their focuses is on supporting young people who have become isolated during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The volunteers have noticed that their peers have lost confidence, are suffering worse emotional wellbeing, and have expressed concerns about their overall physical health.

Off The Grid Adventures aims to engage young people in their community through fun, unique and challenging activities that many people wouldn’t otherwise be able to try.

Paul Kirkpatrick said:

“This project has been a huge success, which is largely down to the 10 amazing volunteers we had. They have proven that if we have the passion we can change our community for the better and tackle inequalities. I’m so proud to see how much they have progressed over the past two years and am looking forward to working with seven of them in the future.”