Staff and pupils at Norham High School in North Shields rose to the challenge when they heard about vulnerable people in need of help over winter. After learning about the North Tyneside Winter Support Network at a recent assembly, the school pledged to collect donations of food and items to help keep people safe and warm during the colder months.

The Winter Support Network is a group of five North Tyneside charities - including VODA - who have been working together to make winter safer for the borough’s older and most vulnerable residents, by providing advice and practical support as well as equipment and food to people in need. Reaching out to the local community to help, the Network was delighted to receive support from Norham High School and its pupils, who donated a range of items including hot water bottles, packet soup, thermal blankets, scarves and thermal socks.

VODA'S Ian Dougall, who collected the donations on behalf of the Winter Support Network, said: “Norham High School’s collection will make a real difference to vulnerable local people in the cold weather. The people we work with are so grateful for the practical support and ‘Keep Warm’ packs they receive – it really does make a positive difference to people’s lives. We are really keen to involve the wider community in helping the Network to be effective. This can range from people pledging to be a good neighbour and telling people who might benefit about it, to helping us purchase essential items – the support from Norham is a perfect example of how local people can get involved.”

David Baldwin, Executive Headteacher at Norham High School, added: “Norham High School was proud to be involved in such a worthy cause.  Our pupils were especially motivated by the fact that their efforts would go directly to help people in their local community, and that really inspired them to do the very best they could. It is great to know how much of a difference our students have made locally.”

One recent recipient of a Keep Warm pack was Mrs Todd from Battle Hill who said: “I’m over the moon with my pack – getting it was like getting a late Christmas present.”

The organisations making up the Network are North Tyneside VODA, Tyne Gateway Trust, Key Enterprises, Meadow Well Connected and Age UK North Tyneside. Supported by North Tyneside’s Clinical Commissioning Group, the Winter Support Network aims to tackle some of the causes of ill health and physical injuries that occur more frequently in winter, as well as alleviate loneliness and isolation that can occur at this time of year.