Brunny Bears picnics put a smile on children’s faces

Children in Bootle have been given something to smile about thanks to two grants from the Steve Morgan Foundation.

The Brunswick Youth and Community Centre in Marsh Lane had to change the way they operate after Covid-19 but steadfastly refused to close their doors to local people who needed their help. 

They applied to the Steve Morgan Foundation and were given two grants from the Covid-19 Emergency Fund for £8,558 and £8,9652 respectively.

Some of the money from the latest tranche of funding has been used to pay for local children to go on Brunny Bears picnics to North West beauty spots, including Haigh Woodland Park in Wigan and Rivington Pike, near Chorley. 

Val Johnson, development manager at Brunswick Youth and Community Centre, said: “The children have absolutely loved the Brunny Bears picnics and we’ve already had some great feedback on how it has helped with the mental wellbeing and reduced their stress levels. 

“After the lockdown it’s all about giving children and their families something positive to do and put a smile on their faces. The funding from the Steve Morgan Foundation has made it possible.”

Val said the Brunny Bears picnics is just one example of how the charity has responded to Covid-19. 

Established in the aftermath of World War II by a group of army officers, the original mission of Brunswick Youth and Community Centre was to support young men in the local community. 

Since its foundation, the Centre’s mission has evolved to support young people as well as the wider Liverpudlian community.

When Covid-19 struck the centre launched its ‘Operation Stay Safe Stay Well’ initiative to help vulnerable people get the food, essential items and support they needed. 

Val said: “Normally we provide lots of youth and community activities. Before the pandemic we hosted two youth and senior sessions, soccer schools, Brownies, Army Cadets, a pensioners’ group and a lot more beside.

“When Covid-19 struck all our face-to-face activity had to stop. We’re in the heart of Bootle and we had to stay open for all the families and vulnerable people in our local area.

“As a result we launched our ‘Operation Stay Safe, Stay Well’ and we distributed packed lunches, food parcels, clothes vouchers and gas and electricity tokens. It’s all about working together to make sure the most vulnerable are supported.

“We’re carrying on with the food parcels until around October when we’ll be winding them down. There is still a need for them.

“We’re very grateful to the ongoing support from the Steve Morgan Foundation to enable us to carry on with our work.”

Jane Harris, director or regional funding at the Steve Morgan Foundation, said: “Brunswick Youth and Community Centre kept its doors open during the pandemic to keep looking after some of the most vulnerable people in Bootle. It’s lovely to see the smiling faces at the Brunny Bears picnics.”

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