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!

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?

Are you a whiz with the whisk or a marvel with the mixer?

Then why not take part in our Bake4Bairns fundraising challenge?

Backed by Tyneside’s Hairy Biker, Si King, Bake4Bairns is all about cooking up a storm to help the region’s babies, children and young people to thrive.

It’s simple to join in – just make your favourite sweet or savoury bake, donate £5 to the charity along with a photo of your culinary creation; then nominate five others to do the same.

Celebrity chef, Si, said:

I’ve been a long-time supporter of Children North East and I’m delighted to be involved in their Bake4Bairns Challenge. It’s important, particularly now in the environment we’re in, to get involved because small acts of kindness make a huge difference to families in need.

In the last year our staff have delivered more that a million minutes of support to our 5,400 plus beneficiaries.

That help begins from pre-birth – for example supporting expectant parents – right up to providing help to teenagers and young people 25 and under.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, we’ve also set up a range of new services such as a seven-days-a-week domestic abuse helpline and delivered more than 2,200 arts and activity packs to pupils and families around the region to help whilst they’re at home.

Senior Fundraiser, Carol Taylor, added:

“With many events cancelled due to social distancing measures, we thought an at-home baking challenge would be a tasty way for people to fundraise and help North East youngsters at the same time. As we’re based on Tyneside it just had to be called Bake4Bairns!

We know how generous the North East is – and how much we love our pastries – so we’d love as many people as possible to get involved and send us their pictures. The challenge goes on right through to the end of October so there’s still plenty of time to get cooking!”

More than 2,600 children have now received ‘Scrappy Dooz’ craft packs from Children North East, thanks to donations from a vast array of different organisations and individuals.

When Children North East first put a call-out to help fill and distribute resource packs for pupils under lockdown, our supporters were amazing! The arts organisation, Culture Bridge North East, was among the first to respond with craft materials supplied by the Arts Council and we’ve had thousands of pounds-worth of funding from lots of others, including the Community Foundation (both Tyne & Wear & Northumberland and County Durham CF) via the The National Emergencies Trust (NET).

On top of that, North East businesses, community group like the Lions and individual members of the public have also generously donated thousands of stationery items; games; books etc to bring joy to the region’s young people. Our staff and volunteers have worked so hard to pack them all up for different age groups and distribute them to the most disadvantaged areas.

The mum of this little boy described receiving packs for her children as “like Christmas had come early”.



Playful Lives is the name of a new Children North East project that has been keeping families entertained in their own back yards.

Lockdown has been harder for some families than others and this project, based in Newcastle’s West End, has helped alleviate some of the stress parents have been suffering.

Mum, Lisa France and her three children, Lyla, three; Joseph, six and Thomas, five, have been shielding since March because of Joseph’s asthma.

Young children painting fence with water

James and Lyla painting their fence with water.

So Lisa loved having our playworkers, Lorna, Paula and student social worker, Lauren along to give them some time. Lisa, a teaching assistant at a local school, said:

“Playful Lives has been great because the children have had no interaction with anyone other than me. I love them and they love me but they must be sick of me by now. Just the fact that there’s three extra pairs of hands here today, even for just half an hour to an hour, it’s brilliant!”


The Playful Lives team have used old cardboard boxes to make a pirate ship with the children as well as organising games of hide and seek.

Playful Lives is part of Newcastle City Council’s Best Summer Ever, a holiday activity scheme aimed at supporting the city’s five to 18-year-olds during the school holidays.

Our charity is working closely with the West End Schools Trust, a charitable educational trust formed by eight primary schools, and other partners to create a multi-agency Children’s Community in this part of the city. There’ll also be an ongoing research element to the work overseen by Newcastle University.

Schools like Bridgewater Primary have recommended families who feel they could benefit from the Playful Lives project to engage with our team.

Andrew and Shirley Poste’s family have also enjoyed Playful Lives. They have two daughters, Maddison, who’s nine and Tamzin, ten. Shirley said:

“This has kept the kids really entertained and they look forward to them coming.”