Visitors to a Northumberland charity’s headquarters are sitting pretty thanks to new funding from regional employer The Banks Group.

YMCA Northumberland has used a £2,155 grant from the Banks Community Fund to buy four new sofas for the youth lounge that it created last year at its North View premises in Ashington.

As well as providing a welcoming environment for many of the 400 local young people that visit the venue every year, the room was also used over the winter as a warm hub, with dozens of local people making use of the free safe space being offered to them.

The grant has also paid for the independent charity to bring in different items of catering equipment for use in the youth lounge, which already offers free access to games consoles, a pool table, a retro arcade machine and a range of arts and crafts supplies.

YMCA Northumberland aims to help children and young people belong, contribute and thrive within their community by providing them with a wide range of opportunities, activities and support, and attracts visitors from both within and outside the local area.

It runs initiatives including a youth club, youth café and holiday programmes, while it also offers mentoring, counselling and mental health services to support local young people dealing with a range of personal issues.

The charity operates a detached outreach service, with teams visiting locations around the area that are known to have issues with anti-social behaviour to encourage local young people to take advantage of the different opportunities available to them at North View, while it has also partnered with the Wansbeck Valley Food Bank to act as a community distribution point.

“The youth lounge is at the centre of many of the services we provide and it’s been really popular with local young people since we opened it last year.”

Rob Cox, CEO of YMCA Northumberland, says: “The youth lounge is at the centre of many of the services we provide and it’s been really popular with local young people since we opened it last year.

“The warm hub was also well used over the winter, with visitors telling us that it helped to bring a bit of brightness to their day during difficult times, and as well as keeping people warm, it also had a really positive impact in terms of tackling social isolation among our local older population.

“We try to offer the best facilities we can to help encourage people to visit and spend time there, and we knew that improving the quality and quantity of the seating would be an important part of this process.

“Banks’ contribution has enabled us to do this much sooner than we’d otherwise have been able to and we’re grateful for their support for our work.”

Jamilah Hassan, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “YMCA Northumberland is a real beacon in the local community and provides so many different services that make a positive difference to the lives of local families.

“The youth lounge is a brilliant community resource and we hope the new sofas will help to encourage more people to spend more time there.”

Anyone from a community group close to a Banks Group project who is interested in applying for funding from the Banks Community Fund should first contact the fund manager on 0191 378 6342 or via or before applying for a grant to check if their group or project is eligible.