Action and Outreach

Supporting “Streetwise”

In November, Mothers’ Union received a request for help from“Streetwise”.They asked if we could support their campaign to help young people who use their services in the centre of Newcastlefor emotional wellbeing and mental health support..  They help young people between the ages of 11 and 25, most of whom live at home, but not all.

Staffat “Streetwise” told us that many young people who visit themare too proud to ask for help from the foodbanks,so they often go without basics.  Theyhave launched a campaign to provide free hats, gloves and sanitary products for young people who access the services.They have also set up a “coffee bar” in the foyer to provide activities and refreshments for the young people who call infor help.

This Christmas they are planning to help the homeless young people who go to the centre. There are about forty of these.  Generous donations from Mothers’ Union members have allowed me to take hats, scarves and gloves (some in smaller sizes) to be given out to those who need them.  I also took toiletries and old fashioned games such as dominoes andplaying cards. Members also donated boxes of biscuits.Through this support, Mothers’ Union members are providing small Christmas treats for many young people in Newcastle who will experience loneliness and hunger over the Christmas period.   Linda Benneworth December 2018


White Ribbon Day, Monday November  26th 2018.

The Mothers’ Union of Newcastle Diocese supported “Changing Lives”at  an event to raise awareness of  abuse by men on women . This event was organised by  Sarah Charlton (the intensive supportworker at Changing Lives and NIDAS). NIDAS   is the integrated domestic abuse service in Newcastle. It consists of a women’s refuge,a group of outreach workers and children’s workers. They offer a 24 hour support line and the IDVA team are based there.  The  Independent Domestic Violence Advisors  work with high risk victims who are at risk of being seriously harmed or murdered. Women’s Intensive Support is also based in with the IDVA team. They support high risk victims who also have multiple and complex needs.

The event in the Brunswick Hall in the centre of Newcastle was planned as an interesting afternoon of activities for clients and their support workers. Volunteers from Mothers’ Union ran a jewellery making stall and a quilting session and spent time just chatting to the clients. All attendees had the chance to make a white flower and to wear a white ribbon, to promote peace and hope.There was obviously a serious note to the afternoon and a short PowerPoint presentation byIsobel Corby highlighted the problem.MU funds provided a small afternoon tea. A large cake was donated by a small business called Lucinda Thompson – Coffee on the Corner and it added to the positive party atmosphere.

The Paper Flower making was led by flower artist Sally for an Art Project called “Forever in Bloom”.  The paper flowers were left and will be part of a larger exhibition. The white paper flowers are going to be displayed  at another DV event .The hope is to offer more workshops so that many more are made and exhibited in a gallery in Newcastle to raise awareness and funds for Changing lives.

The serious message and Vice president Sheila Walker enjoying making a white peace flower!

Sue Croome leading the jewellery making session and  Hilary Fielding preparing for the quilting

The Paper Flower making was led by flower artist Sally for an Art Project called “Forever in Bloom”.  The paper flowers were left and will be part of a larger exhibition. The white paper flowers are going to be displayed  at another DV event .The hope is to offer more workshops so that many more are made and exhibited in a gallery in Newcastle to raise awareness and funds for Changing lives.


 As summer ends, and  we prepare for the longer winter evenings, I wonder if any members or friends   would be prepared to make” Activity Aprons” or “Twiddle Muffs” for  those with dementia. We have received so many requests for these from residential homes.  I am happy to send further details. Please help if you can.  “Glad bags” would also be most welcome.   Thanks,  Linda Benneworth.  My email is



“Glad bags” to help dementia patients, August 2018.

Mother’s Union members were asked to give a good name for the bags we are hoping to provide to help patients with limited mobility carry small things such as handkerchiefs and spectacles on their mobility scooters or walking frames.  Pam Taylor from All Saints Gosforth branch came up with the very apt name “Glad bags” in memory of Gladys McCullough. Several branches have generouslybeen making the bags in various shapes and designs. Joan Mitchell from St Paul’sSeaton Sluice made several bags for  women with dementia which really fit the description of “Glad bags”.  Along with fellow branch member Irene Robinson, Joan took some of these down to the Eothen dementia Home in Wallsend. The photos show Joan, Irene and Terri, the home manager, looking at the very attractive bags each of which contains a small pocket for small items. The bright contrasting colours are ideal for those with poor eyesight as well as looking very cheerful.


Linda Benneworth August 2018


A visit to the holy island of Lindisfarne August 4th 2018

Mother’s Union received a request from the vicars of St Mary’s Howden and the Church of the Good Shepherd, Battle Hill to help fund a day visit to Holy Island. The aim was for the group to have time and space to appreciate their surroundings and enjoy  fellowship with the rest of the group. The day was based in the St Cuthbert Centre on the island. The centre “promotes rest and restoration of body soul and spirit.” Margaret Crawforth ,  Ursula Kopff who had come from MU headquarters in London and I joined the group and were welcomed by the resident minister there. We started the day with morning prayers and then had lots of free time to explore the island.We were able to see the priory ruins and the church as well as walk on the beach, watch the seals and sea birds. The excellent visibility allowed us to see the smaller St Cuthbert Island.  Three of the women in our group followed the pilgrimage route from the mainland on foot with Laurawalking barefoot all four miles of the route.  In addition to helping her train for the “Running Down Dementia “event, she said that the whole experience was inspirational.

The less athletic of us visited the church which was being prepared for the wedding of two islanders and were privileged to see the bride and her father walk to the church through the village and the gardens.

 A wonderful culmination of the visit was the Eucharist in the peaceful surroundings of the centre . Group members were asked to describe the impact of the visit on them. These included an awareness of the tranquillity, the sounds and sights of the seals and the opportunity to sit quietly and absorb the feelings of peace. We from Mother’s Union felt privileged to be part of this. We were also delighted to be invited to join the group in the supper of hot beef sandwiches prepared by Pat before we left the island .

Linda Benneworth


Providing play equipment for deprived children and their needy parents. August 2018

Deprived children often start school with poor linguistic and numerical skills. In order to help address some of these problems nursery groups and play groups greatly benefit from access to especially designed equipment to help the children. Such equipment is usually very expensive. It needs to be robust and comply with the strictest health and safety regulations. The cost is often beyond the ability of the groups and parents to buy. Two groups recently asked MU if we could help, and we were delighted to be able to do so. We provided a road safety scene for “Wor Bairns “on the Meadowell Estate. The traffic scenario gives many opportunities for conversation as well as developingroad safety. The local traffic warden came and worked with the children in this setting. The equipment will hopefully be used  by many groups over the coming years at the Cedarwood centre.


The new St. Mary's Park Estate currently being built near Stannington village is attracting many young families.  They are starting a new Toddler Group to help them settle, but needed play equipment:  Mothers' Union was happy to help.  The leader, Sian, said  'I want to thank you so much for funding the equipment for us, we are very grateful and it has already made such a huge difference.'  We wanted to start a baby and toddlers group as this is a new community. Not many people know each other. That, combined with the importance of supporting parents with young children to meet other parents to allow them to build local support networks, meant that starting the group a high priority for the village hall committee. The numbers attending each week are consistently high - approximately 16 a week, which is brilliant. I myself have made some new friends too!

The new play tent and tunnel has given the mobile children something to play in that they enjoy hiding in. The tables and chairs have given the children somewhere better to sit at for drawing and having their snack at than the large table and chairs that the hall has. As our numbers are higher than we thought they would be, we've saved up and bought an additional table and 4 chairs. We had chosen the slightly more expensive chairs from Ikea as they are stackable, which is essential given storage issues in the hall.



“Girls are Proud” Summer extravaganza. July27th 2018.

This summer the Changing Lives project and especially “Girls are Proud” asked if MUwould help finance a summer extravaganza  afternoon.  This was to replace the “Celebration of Motherhood” afternoon tea with craft activitieswhich MU funded last year. Their aim this year was to provide a non-threatening, and welcoming venue to encourage the women come and have the opportunity to sit and chat with the project’s support workers as well as try interesting and fun craft activities.

The venue chosen was the Scotswood Natural Community Garden which is located behind John Marley College.

The Garden has several small discrete sites with a gazebo and a small barn.  It includes akitchen with a toilet but it is essentially part of the countryside. Craft tables wereplaced in the “barn” along with the food and a range of non-alcoholic cocktails served in proper plastic martini glasses. Support workers collected participants by car so that there was no problem in getting to the location.

The aim was to allow the women to join any activity which aroused their interest

The gazebo was chosen for hair-braiding; as the group sat on blankets in in the small partially enclosed space it felt warm and welcoming and provided opportunities to chat in the sunshine.

Another small grassy area was set up for aromatherapy massages.  I was invited to try a back massage; it was very relaxing and stress reducing.

Some women had sparkles applied to their faces and others made frivolousnet tutus.  It was a lovely atmosphere. The nibbles were available in the same area.  It was all very relaxing spending an afternoon in the countryside  . As we left, lively music wasbeing played in  this area too.


Visit to Adventure Valley July 24th 2018.

On July 28th Mothers’ Union paid for a group of mothers and children from the Harbour Refuge of North Tyneside to spend the day at Adventure valley.

 Once there, families were able to try out lots of activities and rides including go carting,  a ride on a tractor and  sitting in a rubber ring on the giant slide. Other highlights included watching the goat race and also the displays of falconry. 


 It was a day of fun for families who are often subjected to great stress. We hope to repeat this next year. Thanks to all our members who helped to make it possible.


 Linda Benneworth .



A fitting memorial for Gladys McCullough


Following the death of Gladys McCullough earlier this year, it was decided by the Trustees of Mothers’ Union to make a special donation of £500 to be spent on items which had been requested by the People’s Kitchen,as a fitting memorial for her. Gladys had long been an enthusiastic supporter of the work of the kitchen.

Marylyn, the manager at the kitchen, requested sleeping bags for the winter so Dorothy Henderson, our treasurer, and I went to GO Outdoors to buy them.We had been advised to use this store because they have an arrangement with the Peoples Kitchen to store the sleeping bags on their premises until they are needed for the homeless.  This is ideal because the kitchen has very little storage space. What we didn’t know until we got there was that the store gives the People’s Kitchen a special discount. We were therefore able to buy sleeping bags priced a t£39.99 (or £29.99 for discount card holders) for £17.50 each.  This means the Mothers’Union has been able to buy 28 sleeping bags for the homeless people who use the People’s Kitchen. So thank you to Go Outdoors for their wonderful discount and thanks also to Mothers’ Union members for your continuing support.

Mothers’ Union has now got its own discount card in case we want to buy things for other projects.

Linda Benneworth.



Every month about three men are discharged from ‘the Departure Lounge’ at Acklington prison without a family to receive them.  They may go to a hostel, or may even land up on the street.  They often leave with nothing but the clothes they were wearing on entry.  Can we help them by providing a small backpack containing toiletries (including a small towel and disposable razor), together with the kind of things we put in the shoe boxes, including a change of underwear and socks?  If so, please contact me or bring them to Council on 31st March.  I can source nice inexpensive backpacks if needed. 

Look out in the next Journal for much more about this, and about other ways in which we can help prisoners.


Bags for Cumberland House

Dear Angela,


On behalf of the women in the Changing Lives project  I would like to thank you and your members for the beautiful   Christmas gifts which you donated.    I took them to the house just before Christmas and the managers were “over the moon “with them. They said that for some women this would be the only surprise present they would get, something especially for them.

 You obviously spent a lot of time, thought  and effort in assembling the  bags and as far as the women were concerned it certainly was well worth it.

Thank you and God bless,


Making Jewellery with women at from Changing Lives

The women who stay at  the Changing Lives project have diverse and complex problems in their lives.With the help of Mothers’ Union, we have provided three jewellery making sessions for the residents to give them support in a practical way through doing something that they can enjoy. Sue Croome led the sessions and encouraged and helped those attending to make a bracelet, earrings and on the third week an additional piece as a gift for someone for Christmas. Jewellery making is very therapeutic and there is a huge sense of achievement wearing something truly unique which you have made. The women seemed to really enjoy it and have asked that we provide more sessions in the spring.  The thank you notes included comments such as:

“It was a pleasure to have attended the course”  “. I found it fun and educational.”

In addition, donations from Mothers’ Union have enabled the staff to buy pyjamas or a nightie for each woman living at the project. St Peter’s Monkseaton Branch  even bought bags of toiletries and treats for them too. Their kindness will help make this Christmas a nicer one for the residents than they might otherwise have had.


A trip on the North Pole express at Tanfield Steam railway with families from changing Lives and “Wor Bairns”.

Families from Changing Lives had requested a trip on the North Pole express this year rather than a pamper day for the ladies only. Personal problems close to the day meant that some families were unable to attend. Rather than waste the spaces, on the day before we were due to go, we invited several mums and children from “Wor Bairns”, a project operating on the Meadowell estate in North Shields.  The surprise element added to the excitement of the children, some of whom were jumping up and down as we queued for the special bus which took us directly to the steam railway at Tanfield.  As we entered the waiting room,each child was given a special passport to the North Pole. This was their ticket enabling them to meet Santa Claus. Elves and fairies then escorted the group to the train which took us to “The North Pole”.  When their passports had been stamped the children and parents were taken through Santa’s workshop to meet Santa. Here each child was given a beautifully wrapped present.  Families were then taken into the café where they could enjoy complimentary refreshments before the train to take them back to Tanfield station.As the weather was cold these hot refreshments were most welcome.

It was wonderful that, through the generosity of Mothers’ Union members, the groups were able to enjoy a very special day out, meet Santa Claus, receive a gift from an elf  and relax with friends.  I also enjoyed meeting Santa for the first time in many years.

Linda Benneworth.



Underneath the arches with the People’s Kitchen, December 2017.

The People’s Kitchen Christmas party was as usual held under the arches on Trafalgar Street near the old Manors station on one of the coldest and frostiest nights of the winter. At 10pm Santa distributes the shoe boxes, donated generously by the members of Mother’s Union, from the back of a white van. This may be not as picturesque as a sleigh but the gifts are really welcomed by the homeless of Newcastle. Before then there is a wonderful street party. When President Barbara and I walked from the Metro station at Manors down a very slippery slope we could hear the music coming from the band and soon we saw the welcoming high visibility jackets of the many volunteers who were helping.

Hot food and cakes were provided along with cups of tea all free of charge to the many homeless party goers who had also braved the cold. They also had the opportunity to win a food hamper in the free raffle for which the prize tickets were drawn by the Mayor of Gateshead.  There was dancing and singing and we managed to chat to the Peoples Kitchen chaplain Pat Craighead. We enjoyed singing Christmas carols and the “Twelve days of Christmas “. The pantomime atmosphere was enhanced by the colour marking of our place in the words on the overhead projector screen.  And by the fact that we were singing alongside a giant chicken called Davy.

As we left we couldn’t help but think that as we returned to our warm homes, many at the party were homeless and would not be able to do so.



 Linda Benneworth , A and O coordinator. December 2107


Visiting“Walking With”in Wallsend, Christmas 2017

It was lunchtime when we arrived at “Walking With” In Wallsend. People were milling around excitedly as the volunteers began to serve the lunch. Margaret Crawforth and I chatted with the volunteers and those who were about to have lunch. Staff said how grateful they were for the twenty four shoe boxes which were generously donated by MU members. We managed to give out two before everyone sat down for lunch.

Mother’s Union had also donated £50 through the North Tyneside Council special fund to help pay for the food, which smelt very appetising; those I spoke to said it was delicious. Linda Benneworth


 To North Tyneside Council - On behalf of the Newcastle Diocese of the Mothers’ Union I would like to thank you for your award of a grant of £425. This allowed a group of fortynine refugees from “Walking With” based at St. Luke’s Church Wallsend to have a very enjoyable half term outing to the “Jam Jar “cinema.

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