The Big Give is now OPEN: Donate to us through The Big Give Christmas Challenge by midday on 8 December and see your donation DOUBLED!

Architecture practice, Xsite, have drawn up a brilliant Christmas Bake for Bairns fundraiser that’s got great kerb appeal!

The Ouseburn-based firm have been cooking up a storm and these mouth watering photographs of their recent bakes demonstrate just how talented the team are in the kitchen.

Practice Manager, Gail Temperley, said their Christmas Bake For Bairns Challenge is proving a lovely way to keep staff in touch and involved as half of the office are currently working from home. In fact it’s creating a fair bit of good-natured competition. “It’s certainly stirred things up and it’s a good talking point,” said Gail.

The Chorizo and Apple Sausage Rolls above were created by architect Paul Convery whilst architecture student Jack O’Neil, on placement with Xcite from Sheffield Hallam University this year, baked an amazing Blueberry Cheesecake. Meanwhile, Gail herself went with her mum, Mary’s, recipe for a Traditional Sausage Plait, which was a real winner and which she’s kindly agreed to share here.

“My mum used to make it when we were little and my brother’s friends used to call it Cow Pie – it’s been handed down and the name’s just stuck! It really is lovely and very easy to make.”

If you’d like to join our Christmas Bake for Bairns fundraiser, you can read more about how to join in here – and don’t forget to share your photographs on our social media!

Ten steps to Mary’s Traditional Sausage Plait (Cow Pie)


· 8 Cumberland Sausages (skinned)

· Puff Pastry – of course you can buy it! why wouldn’t you?!

· Branston Pickle

· Red Leicester cheese grated

· Beaten egg and a drop of milk for glazing


1. Grease a baking tray and cover with parchment paper

2. Roll out Puff Pastry

3. Place the skinned sausage along the puff pastry two side by side using the 8 sausages

4. Cut pastry on a diagonal either side of the sausage about 1.5 cm strips, same number both sides.

5. Place Branston pickle down the middle of sausages

6. Sprinkle a good amount of cheese on top of the pickle

7. Brush the pastry with beaten egg and plait pastry over the sausages from one side, then the other, until all pieces have been used

8. Brush the complete plait with beaten egg

9. Transfer to baking tray and bake for 35 – 40 mins

10. Try not to eat it the minute if comes out the oven! 

Most importantly enjoy xx

It’s a great feeling to know you’re helping others when doing your Christmas shopping – and shoppers in the North East have really been getting the feel-good factor whilst they choose their gifts, raising almost £1,800 for our charity so far.

Coffee queen, Ruth Oldfield, is the businesswoman who’s made that possible. And she’s hoping more of Children North East’s supporters will join in to push that total over the £2,000 mark.

Ruth, who set up her business, Coffee&Kin, with husband, Mark, six years ago, has just run her first ever online Christmas shopping event, attracting the support of an incredible 1,700 shoppers and 43 businesses.

So far, she’s raised more than £1,774 for Children North East by encouraging buyers to make a donation via JustGiving. Some businesses also donated a percentage of their sales at the event last Thursday. Now she’s decided to keep her Facebook-based Christmas shopping extravaganza ‘open’ along with the JustGiving page so people can continue to shop and donate.

Fancy joining in? Here’s how…


  • The Coffee & Kin Christmas Shopping group will be staying open on Facebook until Christmas. If you’d like to join, please click on this link or contact Coffee & Kin via Instagram or Facebook. Shoppers can continue to donate to Children North East via Ruth’s JustGiving page.
  • For more ideas of how to give while you shop this Christmas, visit our fundraising section here on the website 

“I’m all about helping people”


Ruth decided to stage the online Christmas shopping night from her home in Bolton near Alnwick to lift local retailers’ spirits and improve the lives of children and young people at the same time.

She says: “Running a small business is really tough even under normal circumstances – you’re so often a one-man-band. I’m all about helping people and I just thought everyone needed a bit of a boost because of Lockdown. I wanted to help small businesses and to do something for our customers as well.”

Ruth says:

I think if you do something genuine, people appreciate that and are supportive. People like to help and do good. We have twin 11-year-old daughters and we really wanted to support a children’s charity that helps young people through the various stages of growing up.

The Oldfields began their online business after being introduced to speciality coffee in Australia, by their brother-in-law, who was then a coffee roaster in Adelaide.

“When we got back from our trip to Oz, we didn’t want to drink instant coffee anymore,” Ruth recalls.

“So, we bought ourselves a coffee machine and enjoyed the convenience and taste of pod coffee. However, it just felt so wrong to throw our used plastic and aluminium pods in the bin as I didn’t want them to end up in landfill or our oceans.

“One day, I turned to Mark and said, why don’t we create our own capsule?”

The couple now supply their compostable and eco-friendly pods to Northumbrian B&Bs, holiday cottages and shops. Coffee & Kin also market their capsules; freshly roasted coffee beans and coffee subscriptions through their website and social media.


Trustees’ Week runs between 2-6 November and is a great opportunity to highlight the work of our Board.

Children North East relies on the expertise of its Trustees to steer the charity’s work and provide good governance.

Each of our Trustees has their own reason for volunteering their time freely, but the Rev Sarah Lunn has a particular motivation for doing so.

John T Lunn

It was Rev Lunn’s great grandfather, John T Lunn, who co-founded our charity way back in 1891 when he and John H Watson established the Poor Children’s Holiday Association out of which Children North East grew.

In Trustees’ Week we asked Rev Lunn to tell us about being a Trustee:


Why did you decide to become a Trustee for Children North East? 

The charity has been part of my life for all of my life as my great grandfather John Thomas Lunn was one of the founders and my grandparents Bertram and Anne Lunn and parents Lionel and Ruth Lunn were very active members of the charity and on the boards and committees throughout their working lives.

As soon as I moved back to the North East with my work, I was keen to be part of the Trustees of Children North East because of my history and because I am excited and passionate about the aims and objectives of Children North East now.

I love the fact that my great grandfather and his friend started something entirely new for the benefit of youngsters and which has always looked to the future and has been prepared to develop and change as life and society changed and developed over the years.

What are your early memories of your family’s work with the charity?

As small children we went regularly into the home at Cullercoats, which was on the sea front . We played with the children, in the home and on the beach across the road and they came to play at our house a couple of streets behind. We also visited other homes and my family both held and attended fundraising events throughout my childhood.

The Rev Sarah

What do you enjoy about being a Trustee? 

I enjoy the collaboration with other very skilled folk who are Trustees alongside me. Together we are passionate about the charity and about continuing to move forward and offer relevant services fit for the present time and into the future.

Are you a Trustee for any other charities/organisations? 

No, but my role as a Church of England Parish Priest (Rev Sarah is vicar for the Tynedale parishes of Humshaugh with Simonburn & Wark and Chollerton with Birtley Gunnerton and Thockrington) is considered as work for a charity so all members of the church Council for which, by virtue of my office, I am Chair, are in effect Trustees.

Would you encourage others to seek out a Trusteeship and what advice would you offer them? 

Yes I would encourage others. We all have different gifts, experiences and talents and Trustee bodies need a diverse mix of people on them so that communities are fully represented . If you feel passionate about a cause, do offer yourself as a Trustee!

  • For more about the background to our charity visit Our History


Thousands of children around the North East have received arts and crafts packs thanks to our successful ‘Scrappy Dooz’ project.

Now we’re appealing for help to create and distribute hundreds more in time for Christmas.

More than 3,000 packs filled with an assortment of stationery, stickers, books and games have been winging their way to children throughout lockdown and since they returned to school. The packs have been made possible thanks to generous funding and donations from individuals and from a range of organisations including two Community Foundations (Tyne & Wear and Northumberland and County Durham); Arts Council England (via Culture Bridge North East) and the National Literacy Trust.

Luke Bramhall, School Research and Delivery Manager for Children North East, said:

“We’ve been delighted with the generous funding and the donations which have included everything from painting by numbers sets to jigsaws, writing pads and coloured pencils – all items that the more disadvantaged families in our region can’t afford to buy.

We’ve really been overwhelmed by the response to our activity packs project and would like to thank all those who have helped and continue to do so.

“We are currently putting together packs that will go out to children in the run-up to Christmas and would welcome donations of items for those.”

In County Durham, children at a community youth project called the Activity Den, benefited from receiving Scrappy Dooz packs.

One mum there, Samantha, whose children aged two and eight, received the packs said it had been ‘like Christmas had come early’ for them.

We found the first lockdown very hard. My husband was placed on furlough for two months. And it was hard keeping the children entertained – there are only so many times you can go out for a walk.

“I’m not creative at all. The kids will say, ‘Can you draw such and such?’ and I can’t, but the packs had step-by-step drawing instructions and the children loved that. I’d give the packs ten out of ten, definitely.”

If you’d like to donate to our Scrappy Dooz packs in time for Christmas, please check out the best ways to do so here. And for more ideas on how you can help babies, children and young people this Christmas, why not visit our Hope For Christmas Appeal?

As the North East sees the UK’s biggest rise in child poverty levels outside London, Francesca Hogg, our Poverty Proofing Practice Adviser, explains why it’s time all schools were poverty proofed


End Child Poverty has just released new research showing the extent of child poverty over the past four years. Shockingly, the North East has seen the UK’s largest increase in child poverty since 2014/15, rising from 26 per cent to 35 per cent which means that, after London, the region has the highest rate of child poverty in the UK.

This is of huge concern, given these statistics do not take into account the disastrous impact that Covid-19 has had on family finances. However, we have already seen unemployment in the region rise to 6.6 per cent in August 2020*, making it the highest rate in the country, so it is reasonable to assume that Covid-19 will mean more families struggling to stay afloat and those families that were already in poverty prior to Covid-19, being pulled deeper into poverty.

These rising levels of poverty, a result of the structures within our society, will have had an impact on children’s health and wellbeing, but we also need to be asking, how does it affect their participation in school life?

In a classroom of 30 children, there will be an average of nine children living in poverty and through our Poverty Proofing the School Day programme, we know that living in poverty means turning up at school with an empty stomach and not being able to afford school uniform costs. It means events like non-uniform day become far from fun and the simple homework activity of making a volcano becomes unattainable.

“As a charity, our mission is to ensure ALL children and young people grow up to be healthy and happy, so it is our duty at Children North East to support children and their families so they can fully participate in the school day.

These shocking statistics, mean that now more than ever, our work is vital.”


Through our Poverty Proofing the School Day programme, we work with schools across the country to explore barriers to learning that children in poverty face. We help and support schools to further the excellent work that they do and explore what the school day looks like from the perspective of the poorest child in their school.

This leads to small, practical changes to policies and everyday practices, so that all children and young people can enjoy and participate in the learning and fun that school offers.

Given that Covid-19 has presented additional challenges, it’s more important than ever that we understand and have an awareness of the full impacts that poverty can have on children and young people. Therefore, we have adapted our programme to be delivered online and to explore barriers specific to Covid-19. So I’d urge schools to get in touch with us about how we can support you to overcome barriers to participation for children and young people in your school.  For more information, get in touch with us at or visit our website at

ONS (2020)

A lot of people are giving themselves a really hard time right now:
“Why am I not coping better?”
“I have a lot to be grateful for, I shouldn’t be feeling low”
“I should be doing something productive”
“People have it much worse than me”

Right now you are experiencing a change in life that came suddenly and unexpectedly. Like all change this brings loss – loss of connection, freedom and even safety- the list goes on.

We are grieving for what we have lost.

Even if there are positive changes, we should not ignore the losses which have brought pain and struggle. Can you imagine saying any of the things above to someone who was grieving the loss of a loved one? Then why say it to yourself?

Even with the knowledge that this will pass eventually, it can be exhausting.

“And yet somehow, you marvellous human being, you have found a way to carry on through all of it.”


So keep going whatever way you can.

Instead of telling yourself off for not being able to meet unrealistic goals, praise yourself for how much you have adapted too. Give your self breaks, rest and do what you need to to feel connected to others.

DO NOT belittle yourself.

You are doing an incredible job and we ALL need kindness right now.