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The entrance to the City Road centre
Getting lives back on track
The Crisis Skylight centre in Newcastle is a base for homeless people to gain skills and build up their confidence and self-esteem
As thousands of people sign up to support this year's Sport Relief, one Newcastle project clearly shows the huge impact the money raised can have.
The doors of Crisis Skylight Newcastle were opened in 2007, the first such base opened by the charity outside London.
Bike maintenance is one of the activities offered
It provides an environment where those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless can go and take part in courses and activities and in turn rebuild their confidence and self-esteem so they can move forward.
Among the courses are literacy and numeracy, art, bike and car maintenance, computer skills, massage and skin care and confidence and communication skills.
One of the key strands of the centre's work is the sports activities it offers, helped by a grant from Sport Relief of £14,250 per year for two years.
Barry Henderson is the centre's sports tutor and said it is difficult to overstate the benefits that have come from having sport on the timetable.
He said: "I was finding new members coming along and they wanted to get fit or maybe just get out and do a bit of exercise.
The studio is a welcoming space
"They were a little bit quiet to start with and not too sure what was going on, but by the end of the session after they had had quite a bit of exercise and put in quite a bit of effort they felt rejuvenated afterwards."
Barry said the benefits of the centre's members getting involved in sport include the chance to meet other people and interact with them, taking the initiative to organise teams as well as the health benefits.
Activities include football, tennis, badminton and yoga and Barry said he noticed the change in people quickly after they got involved in terms of their confidence and self-esteem.
The centre is also involved in a scheme run by Sport Universities North East England called Second Chance, which involves using the universities' facilities and student coaches.
Barry said it had been very successful and the key was members could play football in a normal environment.
Crisis Newcastle learning and services manager Janine Ness said the scheme was helping to break down barriers and challenge stereotypes about homelessness.
The exterior of the Crisis Skylight cafe
She agreed about the positive benefits of providing sports activities.
"We had the Sport Relief funding and started doing that in June. Since then it has grown and grown," she said.
"We started off with yoga classes and they were not just good for people's health and well-being, it works on focus and concentration and breathing and relaxation which is important for people in a stressful situation."
Janine said once people concentrated on health and feeling good about themselves, they could then go on and help themselves.
She said other important aspects were being part of a group and forging links with the community.
last updated: 24/04/2008 at 10:36