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Pendower Estate residents create own “Winter Windowland” with festive decorations in their homes thanks to support from Your Homes Newcastle.

The Pendower Good Neighbour Project, based on the Pendower Estate in the west end of Newcastle, works to improve the lives of local people and to make the estate a great place to live. This has been an even more significant aim throughout this year, and the project was keen to make sure everyone living locally had a very merry Christmas after such difficult times.

Despite not being able to open their centre as usual due to Covid-19, the people behind the project have worked tirelessly to provide support to local residents throughout the pandemic, and they’re seeing 2020 off with a very festive bang.

The project accessed YHN’s Community Spirit Fund, which was set up specifically to provide money for Covid-19 relief projects in the communities where YHN manages properties on behalf of Newcastle City Council. Throughout the year, the Community Spirit Fund has contributed towards a multitude of things, from activity packs for children, to arts and crafts projects and even sporting equipment.

Ruth Taylor, who manages the project and who has worked with the group for 16 years, asked for YHN’s support with the Winter Windowland project. Winter Windowland was designed to bring some festive cheer to the estate by encouraging residents to decorate their windows with all manner of Christmassy things.

Originally, Ruth requested £100 for materials so she could equip would-be decorators with tinsel, fairly lights and the like, but she found that some people were actually happy to use their existing decorations and some even made their own – with or without a little help from their children. Ruth is now using some of the money for prizes in a number of categories to help bring even more joy to those on the estate.

She said: “It has obviously been a very hard year for us and for many of the people in our community and it was so important to us to keep the lights on this year. Even when we couldn’t open at all, we were still providing food parcels and leaving anything else we had to offer in the garden for people to take, including books, DVDs and activity packs.

“We’ve seen lots of new people this year and we speak to lots of people the estate every day; we really get a sense of how everyone is doing and of what is needed locally. With this in mind, we were very keen to do something special for Christmas this year given we can’t run our usual festive activities and we know many people are struggling. “We wanted to do something to cheer people up and it’s definitely having that effect! The estate is looking lovely, it’s so bright and colourful and it really is making people feel better. We’re hoping that our Winter Windowland will also encourage residents to walk around the estate more so they can see the work everyone’s done while getting some exercise and maybe sharing a few friendly words from a safe distance.

“We’re very grateful to YHN for their support, they give a lot to us already – including the building we use – but it’s fantastic that they’re recognising the need for additional activities in our communities just now. We’ve also been lucky enough to receive donations from Sainsbury’s, so we can spread more festive cheer with advent calendars and hampers – it’s definitely going to be a Merry Christmas in Pendower!”

Jen Vinton, YHN’s Director of Customer Services, said: “We’re proud to be supporting vital community groups like the Pendower Good Neigbour Project -this is exactly the sort of thing we launched our Community Spirit Fund for.

“Community groups are doing so much essential work currently, and it’s lovely to see the difference they’re making in the areas where we manage properties. I’m sure we could all benefit from seeing some pretty displays and twinkling lights, so I’m hoping to see the Winter Windowland for myself as soon as possible!”

So far twenty households have registered to take part in the Winter Windowland project, with many others on the estate looking festive too. The Pendower Good Neighbour Project is also running some individual themed sessions in the garden of their building, including Christmas crafts, all following Covid-19 guidelines.