It's Cool to be Kind
Our young people, sadly, have experienced a lot of unkindness in their lives - so, a big part of our work is about helping the children and young people find helpful ways to engage with other people, and to learn that their kindness makes a big difference to the world.
During the summer holidays, we provide each member of Gateway with activities that they can do as a family - and one of these activities will be based around our Cool to be Kind initiative. Young people are encouraged to do something to show kindness to others, and when they do, they collect a star. There's a reward at the end of the holiday for those who have taken part.
Christmas Hospital Bag Delivery
Every year, we take young people with a disability or barrier to learning out for six hours on Christmas Eve, to deliver Christmas presents to children on the children's wards at the RVI, Freeman, Durham and Sunderland Hospitals.
Many of our young people spend a lot of time in hospital, so they know what it is like, and would love to help cheer other children up. This initiative teaches our young people about giving, and not always being the recipient.
We always factor a stop at McDonalds into the day, and we have great support - many of the young people will have a carer, or we try to provide 1:3 support. It also gives the parents and families a few hours of rest on Christmas eve, which is very important!
"Beautiful bunch of souls, all under one roof. Always smiling, always positive - I can't put into words my gratitude for you guys"
- Claire, one of our Gateway parents
Toy Bank and Food Parcels
During the year, we collect toys for our toy bank - this is then used by families who are struggling with their finances for whatever reason, and need a little support in getting birthday presents for their children.
At Christmas, the demand is especially high. With the help of the Salvation Army, Sainsburys and Argos, we are able to ensure that each family we are aware of that needs this sort of support is able to get it.
The need for support with food for our families has unfortunately increased. We work with various food banks, but many families we come accross don't meet the criteria for these; so, throughout the year, we have bags of food in the case of emergency for families. We try to top this up over Christmas with additional treats and food as well as fresh veg, which we deliver on Christmas eve.
There are numerous opportunities for our young people to get involved with community activities - this teaches life skills, and helps our young people to understand community, and what it means to be a part of it. It's important, we believe, that they don't only see themselves as recipients of help, encouragement and support but also givers of it.
Our Stepping Out group like to put on tea parties for older people in the community, and they do this as a group on a regular basis.
Fundraising is something that we encourage all of our parents and young people to get involved with. It's not really about the money, as there are often easier ways to raise money - it's about working together, having fun, and raising awareness of the work that we do. It also helps our young people see that money has to be worked for, and develop planning and money skills.
We also try to encourage parents and carers to get involved in whatever ways they can, being considerate to their lack of free time. It helps some of our parents feel like they are contributing towards paying for their children's activities, and feel like they are a part of everything going on at Gateway.
By far the most beneficial aspect of fundraising is the fun, the reducing of isolation and the feeling of achievement that everyone gets - whether that's from running into the North sea on Boxing Day, or doing a sponsored walk.