2020 Projects

December 2020

“Kinball” comes to High School – thanks to Community Partnership

Kin-Ball, is a team sport created in Canada in 1986 by a physical education professor, in which the main distinctive characteristics are the large size of the ball, 1.2m diameter, with the matches played among three teams at the same time instead of traditional one-vs-one like most other team games. The International Kinball Federation has been spreading across Europe and Asia where in the Czech Republic its popularity makes it their national sport.

Ponteland High School are able to include this additional team sport in their curriculum thanks to the Ponteland Community Partnership who funded the Kinball, being delivered just in time for the opening of the new campus last year. This addition is seen as an interesting alternative activity for students who do not engage in traditional sports; it encourages a range of holistic skills such as teamwork, leadership, communication and creativity helping personal development.

This opportunity is all part of the Community Partnerships series of Youth Projects starting from the end of 2020 into the spring of 2021. Working alongside local schools and youth organisations the Community Partnership has set aside funds for creative youth activities aimed at young people’s wellbeing during this difficult Covid 19 epidemic.

The idea came about during the first lockdown when the Community Partnership realised that the youth in the community were finding things particularly difficult, so with some creative thinking they came up with the idea of inviting local schools and youth groups to get involved by applying for a grant to deliver extracurricular activities. The response has been excellent with the aim of selecting successful applications from last November; then into January and March 2021.

The first round was awarded to Ponteland High School for the purchase of a Kinball, as this sport could be offered to hundreds of students whilst being an interesting alternative for those who don’t normally engage in traditional sport.

Quote from Chairman:

“Young people are our future, we need to help them through this difficult time; the partnership has prioritised its efforts to encourage local schools and youth organisations who can deliver innotive activities during these challenging times for the benefit of our young people’s wellbeing. Usually we deliver the projects but this time, as we can’t due to Covid restrictions, schools and some youth organisations can – we are being more creative to support our community”

Quote from Head of PE High School

“This will allow us to develop our provision of moving Ponteland High School PE and School Sport away from a culture of traditional sports and introduce an alternative and broader provision for activities in line with our vision and core purpose for PE to ensure we teach and provide all students with a range of activities and opportunities to develop them as people and ensure they live a healthy active lifestyle”

This will be an excellent addition to the school and something that the students will have never seen before. No doubt the students and people in the area will be intrigued and engaged which could lead to something developing further as a result.

This first round of money was raised by a group of 16 young people completing their National Citizen Service Award, arranged by the Youth Service, by organising a Family Fun Day in Ponteland. The young people came from the central area of the county Ashington, Prudoe and Ponteland. This was part of a national programme providing a community project based on “making a difference in the community” helping to build confidence and self belief and giving young people the chance to embark on challenges and building skills for work and life. The young people wished to raise money to be spent on improving activities for young people who live or are educated in Ponteland. The Community Partnership has been a custodian of these funds creating a series of youth projects starting at the end of last year and continuing up until March 2021.

The next round of funding, made possible through the generosity of local donations, is the end of January when the Community Partnership will look at the remainder of the applications for consideration.

April 2020

April Youth Reporter of the Month, Yuvi

The Truth About Social Media

Social media is often deemed as having a negative effect on the younger generation and is considered as dangerous by several parents. Throughout this article, I will outline the evident benefits of apps such as Instagram and Snapchat, and will offer an explanation as to why so many people have these opinions.

Social media is defined as “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.” This is rather vague as the creation of content is relatively different to simply social networking. Social networking isn’t very diverse in its uses as it generally just involves networking with people online which has its own pros and cons whereas, with making content, there is a lot more potential for originality and creativity. There is a lot more you can do with creating and sharing content such as making videos or memes. It is especially relevant at this point in time due to the lockdown as it can help prevent a feeling of isolation and loneliness.

Instagram is an app which allows a user to share photos and videos from their lives. It is used by 1 billion users on a monthly basis, 71% of which are under the age of 35. This then makes privacy and safeguarding a key issue which is why the app enables the user to set their account as private so that the user is able to determine who can access and view their story and posts. However, there is a very limited amount of control that you have with what you see in your “feed” as you cannot control what certain people or pages post which could cause users to view posts which violate the rules of Instagram. Albeit, Instagram have a team dedicated to preventing this, it is almost impossible to view and vet every post on Instagram. Instagram firstly increases artistic ability when taking, editing and creating photos. It also allows you to increase your social circle to different extents. One maybe simply following a person and liking each other’s posts but also being able to privately message them and create group chats similar to WhatsApp. This consequently allows you to stay in touch with people without actively having to message them personally.

Snapchat has a much more focussed aim as it is primarily used to talk and send photos of yourself to friends. Snapchat was said to be used for more than 90% of U.K teens and young adults, displaying its clear popularity. In comparison to Instagram, Snapchat’s privacy settings are also much more effective as you control who you snap and who can snap you. It also allows you to control who can view your story. Snapchat also will inform you if someone takes a screenshot of something whilst Instagram doesn’t. However, along with any app that allows you to directly message people, there is always the danger of explicit photos being spread and predators deceiving younger people. It is almost impossible to entirely prevent this as the app doesn’t view and can’t look back on the messages you send, but it does try and limit strangers messaging people as you have to be added back in order to message them.  Snapchat is more commonly used between friends and especially in quarantine, a great way to talk to your friends.

In my opinion, the major reason for people having negative views and opinions regarding social media is due to the news. This is because when social media is in the news, it is almost always for bleak and dismissive reasons. This consequently, creates the illusion that the entire concept of social media itself is flawed and that your children shouldn’t use it. In reality, Instagram and Snapchat can be safe and not harmful as long as you stay aware of the dangers and are cautious.

March 2020

The Community Partnership is launching 3 project
ideas for young students in 6th form, starting
now and into 2020.

Each month a shortlist of successful applications will be considered for a prize in recognition of their efforts.
This will give you the opportunity to try your hand at something that interests you. See below:

Apply for Entrepreneurs of the Future
Have you got a business idea that you would like some help with?
Have you got a business plan?
Is your idea ready to go or already started?
We would like to hear from you and your business idea.
All applications will be considered and a short list of candidates will be invited to a future Dragons Den where you will be expected to pitch your idea to local business people for some funding.
Apply through the contacts page

Apply for Website Youth Reporter
Would you like to try your hand at writing an article for the Community Partnership’s website?
Could you write about something you feel passionate about or a topical or of local interest?
All articles will be considered by the editorial group to be included into a new section of the website and will be considered for pontelandonline.
Apply via the contacts page

All successful young people will be given recognition for their efforts.

February 2020

Taken from a from the Natural History Society of Northumbria blog
Capturing the History of a Hidden Gem
Click to read the story.

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) Grasslands Project

A former anonymous Darras Hall resident kindly supported the volunteers of the Community Partnership in the autumn of last year to create a 2020 New Year project and funded the manufacture of an Educational Information Pedestal for Grasslands Darras Hall – Middle Drive entrance. The research, development design and co-ordination were undertaken by the Community Partnership with the installation managed by Darras Hall Estates Committee and Natural England.

Quote: Chairman of the Community Partnership said” We were delighted to receive such a generous donation offered to support our project, we wanted to create an information pedestal that tells a story of the original land ownership, its protection in 1910, and how owners valued its status which was also recognised by Natural England ( previously English Nature). Obviously, there was considerable work undertaken by the partnerships volunteers in the research and getting the right balance of the heritage and the natural environment. Special thanks should go to the Natural History Society and the Hancock Museum for their help in allowing us to use the illustrations of Margaret Rebecca Dickenson a local Victorian botanist and the land owners Darras Hall Estates Committee who paid for the installation.”

Grasslands is a 4 hectares area designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) -notified under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 in the middle of Darras Hall , well hidden by the surrounding houses on Middle Drive, Eastern Way and Woodlands and known only to the local residents. The pedestal shows the history of Darras Hall, the citation, listings of the rare plants and illustrations of some of the plants created by a local north east artist at the time when Darras Hall Trust Deed was being created.

The formal conservation designation by Natural England, formally English Nature, from 1984 describes an area that’s of particular interest to science due to the rare species of fauna or flora and important habitats such as grasslands and rare plants of high conservation value.

This is one of over 4,100 sites covering more than 4,200 square miles in England and over half of this area is internationally important for wildlife. Most SSSIs are privately-owned or managed; others are cared for by public bodies or non-government organisations. This status means owners “must” manage the site appropriately to conserve its special features and any intentional or reckless damage of a SSSIs features or disturbance of its wildlife is an offence.

History Darras Hall Grasslands was first identified in the Darras Hall Trust Deed 1910 as a specific area uniquely positioned in an isolated spot to be used for recreational purposes and has been left relatively undisturbed since – it has been said that the oval shape was significant to a cricket pitch. In the mid 1990s estate owners voted overwhelmingly to support this site for nature conservation and informal recreation. This small oval area of semi-natural grassland forming the Darras Hall recreation area, entirely surrounded by houses, is one of the few remaining examples of a semi-natural grassland type once widespread, but now much diminished by agricultural and residential development. The main botanical interest centres on the gently undulating species-rich grassland which has developed on clay soils and which grades into wetter areas.

Darras Hall Trust Deed is based on the principles of Sir Ebenezer Howard’s concept in providing urban planning for “Garden Cities”, initiated in 1898, its aim intended to provide self-contained communities surrounded by greenbelts giving home life in a rural setting away from the work environment. Locally, Joseph Wakinshaw, a very forward thinking man of his time, arranged for the purchase of Darras Hall, Little Callerton and Callerton Moor (all farms) making up a total of 1,025 acres purchased for £59,210 in 1907 with the intention of creating Darras Hall Estate. The land was originally divided into 185 plots of approximately 5 acres; leaving the rest for roads and community facilities. A 2 day auction took place on the 8th & 9th February 1911 and raised £76,423 which covered the initial cost and the development of the original roads.

Illustrations The illustrator Margaret Rebecca Dickinson was born in Newcastle in 1821 she was an accomplished botanist and a talented Victorian artist who painted in watercolour over 450 plant species of wild flowers. On her death in 1918 she bequeathed her collection of watercolour drawings to the Natural History Society.

Citation – Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) Notified under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 Local Planning Authority: Castle Morpeth Borough Council National Grid Reference: NZ 158714 Area: 4.00 (ha) 9.88 (ac) Ordnance Survey Sheet 1:50 000, 88, 1:10000 NZ 17 SE First notified: 1984 Other information: This is a new site with the exception of a football pitch on the eastern side, the site is otherwise free from intensive management. Citation plants are categorised below:

Rarer Plants:

Dyers greenweed
Pepper saxifrage
Yellow loosestrife
Purple loosestrife
Common reed

Serratula tinctoria
Genista tinctoria
Silaum silaus
Lysimachia vulgaris
Lythrum salicaria
Phragmites Australis

More Common Plants:

Ladies mantle
Northern marsh orchid
Common spotted orchid
Common twayblade
Creeping willow
Ragged robin
Yellow rattle
Common knapweed
Primula veris
Alchemilla spp
Dactylorhiza purpurella
D. fuchsii
Listera ovata
Salix repens
Lychnis flos-cuculi
Rhinanthus minor
Centaurea nigra

Natural England Management Plan
As the site is a SSSI any operations on it are regulated by Natural England, who also funds some of the work that is carried out on it, including the annual cut, removal of the sward in autumn and the scrub control work during the winter. The site developed its botanical interest as a hay meadow it is important that it continues to be managed that way and not removing vegetation at the end of the growing season would result in nutrients going back into the soil leading to rank grasses out competing many flowering plants. The scrub removal is also important to enable the many visitors to the site to get around and stop areas from becoming overgrown and impassable. The site consists of a mix of unimproved semi-natural grassland and scrub (largely gorse, hawthorn and willow). There are now more than 220 plant species identified within the site, which suggests that it has not been intensively managed for a long time, probably 100 years or more. The site is noted for the occurrence of a number of plant species which are rare or uncommon in Northumberland. This type of grassland was once common across the English lowlands, but there is now less than 6,000 ha remaining, with this 4 ha (10 acre) site being one of the more significant of its type in Northumberland.