Hand Project

We believe that it takes working partnerships with schools, parents, carers, voluntary and statutory organisations to enable each child to reach their full potential. We enable young people with a disability or a barrier to learning to be involved in the community on an equitable basis. In order to do this we need to ensure that alternative ways of learning are publicised and enforced; one of the ways we do this is through the Hand Project.


The hand project stands for ‘have ability not disability’ and aims to show participants that everyone has different abilities and special talents which are unique to them.

The Hand Project is an accessible, enjoyable, learning experience for all young people. The project enables children and young people to build up a portfolio of skills, certificates and experience both in school and out of School. Additionally, people can work as part of a small group or individually, with a personal mentor to support their future aspirations.

The hand project started out as a small arts project based in the Chester le Street area funded for one year by the Chester le Street AAP in 2012. A Programme comprising sports and Art was offered to schools in the area.

A number of schools took part and the programmes delivered music, animation, art work, modelling, graffiti art, drama, theatre visits, Asdan Expressive Arts awards, amongst other things. This culminated in a gallery presentation in Chester le Street where the young people’s achievements were celebrated.

As a result of this, and following consultation and feedback from local schools, it was suggested that we offer this project to specific individuals (identified by carers or schools) and roll the project out for an extended term.

Hand is now looking for funding to ensure that this project can run in multiple schools across the North East and also to ensure that young people who access Gateway North East’s other activities can be fully included onto the programme.

The programme is designed to be flexible and to fit around the needs of the individual schools, organisations and young people. However as a basis for the programme, all young people will be registered on a number of award schemes and will work

towards certification at an appropriate level. It is important that small steps are recognised as progression, therefore we aim to include additional awards into the young peoples portfolios.

We have access to an online system called Equalitree which enables the young people, parents and teachers to record progress and achievement. Equalitree also allows these parties to upload photos and evidence to the young persons physical portfolio.

Schools and groups can decide on the amount of time that a child or group should be engaged in the scheme each week. Obviously the more time the child is engaged in the activities the greater the outcome. We would recommend a minimum of 2 hours each week depending on the needs of the individual child.  We encourage involvement by parents and carers to be part of the development of each portfolio and programme

All children who are registered with Gateway North East for other activities such as Holiday Schemes, residentials, swimming lessons, sports etc. are automatically registered on to the Hand portfolio system and are able to supplement their portfolios with activities from schools and other groups that they attend.

Gateway North East is about Enabling children and Young people , giving them confidence in their own ability to achieve and to this end we ensure that we enable young people as they become older to take on responsibility in a volunteering or work capacity in turn enabling younger children.

How to join the Hand Programme:


Young people who attend one of our holiday schemes, which run in every school holiday, in Sacriston, Sunderland, the Durham Dales, and Newcastle are automatically enrolled on the scheme and activities that they attend and take part in will be recorded and added to their portfolio.

This is also the case with those who take part in our sports groups, Boccia, ten pin, football, multisports, energy club and swimming or any of the activities that we do such as residentials and days out.

Cost: There is always a small charge for the activities and we also charge for certification for awards. However, we are a charity and we work to try and fund this from donations and fund raising by parents and volunteers, in the event that carers, the child’s school or the Local authority will not cover the cost.

We are also Ofsted registered and as childcare is involved during holidays those who claim working tax credit are able to claim up to 70% of the cost of attending the holiday schemes.

Schools and organisations

We have a number of well qualified and experienced play leaders, coaches and teachers who are able to come into schools and deliver the Hand Programme. Our involvement with schools is dependent on the needs of the school and the needs of individual children within each school.

Initially schools should contact Joanne Fearn or Lisa Metcalf (contact details at bottom of page) to arrange a visit to the school, so that the type of programme can be discussed and the project tailored to suit. We will then agree a provisional plan for the year and arrange to provide information for parents and schedule meetings accordingly.

The cost of running the scheme works out at £25 per hour, per member of staff who will work face to face with a child for the lead member of staff. This is worked out including preparation time, recording activities and travel and £10 per hour for the support workers.

Some schools provide their own support workers; others prefer us to bring our own; this decision we leave to the school. Some schools are happy to run the programmes themselves with us constructing the portfolios, where other schools require one of our teachers to work intensively with an individual child (possibly out of school hours).It is very flexible and is designed to fit around the specific needs of the individual children and school.

We would expect that the school would pay for the accreditation of the individual children from their budget.

However as above with individuals, we are a charity and do not insist on payments if organisations are unable to afford it. Instead we simply ask that organisations are happy to look at alternative ways of funding the programme, e.g, helping the school to run a none uniform day to raise funds for Gateway North East.

For more information on the Hand Project please contact Joanne Fearn on joanne@gatewaynortheast.org.uk. Alternatively, please call the office on 0191 5263112