Stepney Bank Stables struggling to make ends meet amid cost of living crisis after 30 years supporting children

An iconic North East charity is struggling to make ends meet as it grapples with dramatically increased costs amid the cost of living crisis.

For over 30 years, Stepney Bank Stables, based in Newcastle's Ouseburn Valley, has provided support to thousands of young people from all walks of life. It has grown to become a lifeline to children who find it difficult to attend school, as well as young people diagnosed with neurodiverse conditions, and those suffering from anxiety.

But now the charity is issuing a plea to help its vital work continue as it assesses how to adapt to an increasingly challenging financial situation. It revealed that it has struggled with dramatically increasing costs over the last two years which, coupled with reduced income from riding lessons and grants, has left them finding it hard to make ends meet.

They are reaching out to the community for help to meet a critical funding gap while they restructure their operating model.

Stables manager Sara Newson said: "The stables is a really special place. We get young people, from all walks of life, come together through a shared interest, creating unusual – and often lasting – friendships. The social mixing is a vital part of their learning."

The charity provides children and teenagers with the chance to care for and ride horses – helping to increase their confidence and self-esteem and boost their health and wellbeing.

Among the range of young people who volunteer at Stepney Bank are children who have struggled to remain in mainstream education but for whom the stables can provide a safe space and an opportunity to gain experiences and qualifications that will help them to successfully transition into adulthood.

For Stepney Bank staff, the positive impact that spending time with horses can have on youngsters – particularly children who might struggle to communicate with others – is clear. In recent years mental health professionals have shown increased interest in working with and caring for horses as a form of therapy and support.

Sara added: "We know from experience that being around horses can be a fantastic intervention for young people – especially those suffering from anxiety or with neurodiverse conditions that can affect communication skills."

One parent explained that the stables has been "excellent" for his son, who has additional needs. He described it as "the only bit of independence he gets."

So far, the Save Our Stables campaign has attracted over 100 supporters including parents of current attendees and former attendees, including Amy, who said: "I, like so many others, have had years of fun and memories here that shaped my childhood. I’d love to see them continue to do so for many others."

Chair of trustees Graeme Fletcher said: "We're confident that, if we can get through the next few months, we can adapt and come back with an even stronger offer for young people."

The Save Our Stables appeal runs until May, 23. The Crowdfunder can be accessed at via this link. For more information about Stepney Bank Stables, visit the website.