Jill Flowers 2

Member Article

Wonder woman tackles child poverty in North East

Morpeth-based Pauline Wonders’ is passionate about people. Her Tyne Gateway initiative endeavours to stamp out family and child poverty and raise the hopes and the aspirations of parents and their families in the North East of England.

With shocking figures that suggest 31% of children in the North East live in deprivation, Pauline’s social business aims to support communities in finding a pathway out of poverty.

Pauline has experience working in both the public and private sectors as an accountant. She currently resides herself at the University of Sunderland as Head of Corporate and Professional Education.

Tyne Gateway originated as a collaborative idea between North and South Tyneside Councils to tackle child poverty. In 2009, the project secured £1.5m funding over a two-year period and in 2011 the Tyne Gateway social business was established.

The main goal of the business is to provide support to the most difficult to reach parents in the poorest locations, by offering them the opportunity to develop their own solutions to their problems. This is achieved through ‘Community Entrepreneurs’ who are recruited, trained and employed by Tyne Gateway. The Community Entrepreneurs are themselves parents currently living in poverty. They are recruited and trained in Key Skills followed by a Foundation Degree in Community Entrepreneurship. The role of the Community Entrepreneur is to support other families in their communities who are in similar situations; families who are traditionally difficult to reach by the professionals.

Community Entrepreneurs are responsible for looking at existing services within their communities and coming up with new ideas to work with professionals to redesign these services; in addition they will develop new projects within their own communities aimed at moving parents into employment and reducing child poverty. With thirteen community entrepreneurs employed presently, Pauline commented “We can already see a significant improvement in the lives of the Community Entrepreneurs participating in the scheme. Their aspirations to learn and determination to put back into the community has been a positive contributor not just to the community itself, but at home where siblings have been inspired to pursue their own personal development which encouragingly has been reflected in school-work and all round ambition to succeed in life”.

The ‘Future Finance’ scheme deployed across North and South Tyneside is an example of an innovative project developed. It focusses on families, in particular helping them work towards saving money and to avoid having to resort to doorstop lending; something which has become a major problem in recent years. Banks have been approached to support the scheme aiding families to write off debts and further encourage saving. This scheme is complemented by a ‘Piggy-Bank’ scheme which encourages youngsters of school age to take a serious view and positive steps towards saving for their future.

The ‘Teen Pregnancy’ project involves recruiting and training teen-mums to deliver advice in secondary schools addressing the issues of teen pregnancy. In particular, discussion takes place around the life-changing experience and thwarting difficulties faced when teens prematurely disembark upon parenthood.

With additional scope to provide training and consultancy to organisations nationally, it is Tyne Gateway’s intention to confront poverty not just in the North East of England, but across the whole country.

Pauline said “my motivation for entering the Regional Universities’ Blueprint Awards is to raise awareness of the real issues around child poverty, exposing the problem to a wider audience and extending our family of stakeholders. Winning the prize money would enable us to support a further ten parents through the first module of the Community Entrepreneur Foundation Degree and encourage them to take responsibility for their own personal development.

Pauline Wonders will compete against academic entries from the five North East Universities in the Knowledge Transfer Awards at the 2012 Blueprint Grand Final, taking place on Thursday 25th October, Hilton Newcastle Gateshead. Tickets are on sale now for the Black-Tie, Grand Final Awards Ceremony. For more information visit www.blueprintcompetition.co.uk or contact Jill Flowers (j.a.flowers@durham.ac.uk).

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Jill Flowers .

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