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Mary attended the BELS AGM last week.

Howdon BELS was established in 1985 after a local Young Women’s Group identified a gap in provision for the welfare of their children and their ability to provide safe secure equipment.  Funding was obtained to combat this inequality and BELS was formed.

Howdon BELS and TL is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee based in Howdon Community Centre.  It offers the communities of North Tyneside the opportunity to ensure that babies and children have access to safe and secure equipment, by providing essential baby equipment for low income families on a loan basis for minimal cost.  These include cots, buggies and high chairs, all maintained to the highest standards, which can be hired on a long or short term contract.  The project also sells fire guards, safety gates and safety packs at a discount price.

The Toy Library was established in 2001 to complement the loan service provision.  The library allows families in North Tyneside to borrow good quality toys for a small membership charge.

The project has recently received funding to expand the activities on offer.   Four new staff members have been employed and have been preparing and delivering the service throughout the borough.  During the next few months, the project will develop a programme of sessional activities to enhance the lives of young people in North Tyneside.  These sessions will be held in local accessible venues and it is hoped that many young people, up to the age of 15, will be reached.  BELS and TL would be pleased to hear from any established groups to discuss the possibility of working together to provide quality opportunities for young people in North Tyneside.

The project has received lots of praise from many users, including this from a grandmother who has accessed the service:
“It is great to be able to have so many toys to choose from, so my grandchildren are never bored when they visit.” 

A second service user, commenting on the loan equipment said,
This is my second child, so I get no benefit.  I could not have afforded to get all I needed for this baby without the help of the loan scheme.  The cot was brand new and the buggy is great.”

For more information on BELS and TL telephone 0191 263 5770, email howdonbels@yahoo.co.uk or visit them at Baby Equipment Loan Service and Toy Library, Howdon Community Centre, Denbigh Avenue, Wallsend, NE28 0PP.