Charity donation to get Great North runners smiling

Image: Joshua Hardie (Café Beam supervisor), Amber Studholme (Café Beam host), Andrew Skelton (SOS Group director) and Paula Gascoigne (Smile for Life chief executive)

A Gosforth-based charity that supports disabled and disadvantaged children and young people from across the North East is one step closer to raising vitally needed funds through the Great North Run.

Established in 2007, Smile for Life relies largely on donations to support its work, and sponsored runners in the famous half-marathon from Newcastle to South Shields play a significant part in their annual fundraising.

This week, Team Valley-based copy, print and scan management company, SOS Group donated £1,000 towards the charity’s Great North Run costs, enabling more runners to take up a place for Smile for Life, and raise even more funds raised to support its work.

Paula Gascoigne, Smile for Life’s chief executive, says: “Since 2010 people have been kind enough to take on the Great North Run for us and it’s such a positive experience all round. The runners know they are supporting our work but also setting themselves a fantastic challenge and the event itself is such an amazing thing to be part of.

“Obviously, we have costs relating to the day and this generous donation from SOS Group will help off-set those and enable us to raise even more funds so we’re very grateful for it.”

Smile for Life enables disabled and disadvantaged children and young people from across the region to live happier, easier and fuller lives.

It does this by providing specialist equipment, wonderful experiences, short breaks and family days out when they are desperately needed. It runs accessible and fully inclusive activities, challenge days and trips for larger groups of children throughout the long and often isolating school holidays.

The charity also provides essential work experience placements in its cafe, Café Beam, which has been operating for five years and moved into its larger, fully accessible premises, in November 2018.

Andrew Skelton, director at SOS Group, visited Café Beam in The Old Fire Station on Gosforth’s High Street to hand over the firm’s donation.

Andrew says: “It was a huge pleasure to visit Café Beam for a coffee and to hear more about Smile for Life’s ongoing work and plans for the future.

“We work with companies and organisations from small start-ups to international manufacturers and the key to success everywhere is always getting the best from people.

“So, for us, a charity like Smile for Life that’s determined to enable children and young people to achieve more and enjoy life is absolutely something we want to support.”

Launched in 2002, SOS Group’s services include document management, scanning, cost consultation, managed print services and supplying and maintaining leading brand digital office equipment.

It was recently recognised in two prestigious categories in the Tyne and Wear Business Awards and will now go on to compete in the England Business Awards Grand Final in York.

Café Beam is run by a team of young people aged between 16 and 24 with a variety of disabilities and learning difficulties. Supported by trained volunteers, the youngsters serve customers, operate tills, handle money and gain essential food preparation skills alongside the cafe’s qualified chef.

More than 120 young people complete their Café Beam placement each year, becoming a qualified barista, learning new skills to take into the workplace and increasing their confidence and self-esteem.

Head Office

356A Dukesway Ct, Gateshead, NE11 0BH

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London, Birmingham, Bristol, North West and South Yorkshire


Big enough to cope, small enough to care