Vital Newbiggin community hub visit from Police and Crime Commissioner

A Northumberland community hub opening the door to opportunities and employment for local people welcomed Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness to find out more about its vital work.

Since it opened 12 years ago, the Newbiggin Learning Hive has helped scores of people in the seaside town into employment and gain educational qualifications, as well as supporting them with confidence and aspiration building.

The Newbiggin Learning Hive is one of three estate-based facilities operated by Bernicia, bringing communities together by promoting social and financial inclusion.

Kim met with Bernicia Chief Executive John Johnston and Gill Smith, Chief Executive of the Northern Learning Trust charity which has specialist support staff based in the Newbiggin Learning Hive.

The centre offers a range of initiatives, including life skills and educational support, training to help people prepare for job interviews, as well as free internet access to assist with job searches.

It also plays an important role in the lives of local people looking for everyday advice and support with finances during the cost of living crisis.

Newbiggin Learning Hive volunteer Stephen Hooper tends to the centre’s flower and fruit garden, which he says offers sensory therapy to people visiting the hive.

“There’s nowhere like this in Newbiggin where people can help you get your CV up to date – people come in here panicking about bills and Universal Credit and the team has done so much to take that strain away from them,” said Stephen.

“This place is so valued. It’s the perfect place to come if you need help to search for a job or get help filling in forms – the staff here have done so much for me.”

Kim said: “This place really gets it – they understand local people and their needs.

“Whatever challenges life is throwing at them, whatever circumstances they are in, it’s a place welcoming them with the learning and support opportunities needed to improve their lives.

“Whether it’s help with low self-esteem or to get a job to improve family finances, the people here are ready to come up with a plan offering a helping hand and bringing solutions to their problems.

“This is a great example of the type of hub every community needs – working to build up people’s optimism for the future. I am very happy for the people of Newbiggin who have benefitted over the last 12 years and long may this vital work continue.”

John said: “It was fantastic to meet with Kim at the Newbiggin Learning Hive, to explain the work we are doing in communities to promote financial and social inclusion.

“We discussed the range of initiatives she is developing as Police and Crime Commissioner to support local communities like Newbiggin, helping bring people together and increase their aspirations.”

Bernicia is investing an additional £2m over the next three years as part of a range of initiatives that will deliver £15m worth of added social value across the region. This includes establishing an in-house employability team – experts who are building a talent pipeline, working with regional employers, schools and colleges to fill job vacancies and ensure local communities can access them.

Pictured left to right at Newbiggin Learning Hive are: Kim McGuinness, John Johnston and Gill Smith.