Internationally-successful rapper Professor Green has hailed the ‘pioneering’ work of a Tyneside charity after visiting the region for a BBC documentary.
He spent time with Family Gateway for his BBC documentary Professor Green: Living in Poverty.
It supports some of the most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach families in North and South Tyneside and parts of Northumberland.
Family Gateway staff were shadowed by the television personality, real name Stephen Manderson, in their work in the community earlier this year.
He praised their ‘pioneering work in directly engaging with families, winning their trust and supporting them in changing their lives’.
The documentary featured Clare Barnes and Kevin Henderson, and their children Lily, 12, and Leo, 11, from Wallsend, who were experiencing extreme financial troubles.
Clare suffers from extreme anxiety and had agoraphobia after a breakdown that left her unable to leave the house for many months. Kevin then lost his job as a care worker earlier this year, leaving the family in crisis.
The couple were referred to Family Gateway – formerly known as Tyne Gateway – last year by the local authority, with which the charity works closely.
It has a policy of employing ‘barefoot professionals’, who have themselves had experience of overcoming serious issues.
The couple now both volunteer with Family Gateway. Kevin, who is applying for jobs and has an interview lined up, assists on a variety of family projects and Clare helps out in the café at its head office in Howdon Community Centre.
Pauline Wonders, director of Family Gateway, said: “Clare and Kev are a great couple with gorgeous children who have engaged with us and are now helping themselves to turn their lives around.
“Professor Green was great to have around. His own background meant that he shared our approach of truly understanding the issues that families face and his documentary has provided us with another valuable opportunity to highlight what we do.”