NEAT help for those in need at Christmas

22nd December 2017

Children from the five schools in Newcastle East mixed multi Academy Trust (NEAT) have had a busy time in the run up to the Christmas holidays helping those who are less fortunate than themselves.

Over the last few days, they have distributed thousands of pounds worth of Christmas hampers containing basic food items, treats and sweets to those who are living in poverty in the local area. 

The initiative has been running in Benfield School for seven years, but this time, since the school has become part of a multi academy trust earlier in the year, the idea was taken up by the additional four schools – Central Walker, Tyneview, Walkergate and West Walker Primary School, which are also operated by NEAT.

More than fifty Year 7 students have eagerly been making posters, collecting donations of food and gifts and packaging them into hampers ready for delivery to families that are finding it tough to cope at Christmas.

The incredible success of the initiative this year has been given a boost because of the generosity of two local businessmen – Rob Armstrong of Ponteland whose business interests include LA Taxis and MTrec Recruitment who donated £1,000 to boost the students’ supply of food and his friend, Ian Watson, owner and chairman of Hadrian Healthcare, who added a further £2,000 into the pot after being approached by Rob to get involved.

Speaking about the initiative, Rob said: “I was staggered when my wife Bev told me about the good work NEAT are doing this Christmas and how motivated the youngsters are. She told me how they really wanted to get involved to help their fellow classmates whose families are struggling, and I find that very commendable.

 “It also draws attention to the fact that a lot of families on Tyneside are facing a bleak Christmas because they can’t afford to buy things that many of us take for granted. I’m not talking computers or tablets, I’m talking about food and clothing.

 “Kind-hearted acts like what those the NEAT youngsters are doing goes a long way to making this time of year a little more special.”

 Assistant headteacher at Benfield School, Maria Irving, was thrilled with the donations and the way that the students had rallied around to make the initiative a success.  She added:

 “It surprises many people just how much poverty and social deprivation exists within the areas where we live and work.

“These kind donations from Rob and his wife Bev as well as from Ian Watson, will be used by the five schools to provide food and gifts to ease the hardship and poverty experienced by families in our community.

“I should also like to acknowledge the contributions of presents to NEAT families from The Mission Christmas Project and Metro Radio’s Cash for Kids.  The hampers have all been delivered now and we hope that they bring some Christmas cheer to the families we have been able to support.”