Newcastle United Foundation. Newcastle United Foundation officially open £8m community hub NUCASTLE

29 Mar 22

Newcastle United Foundation's state-of-the-art facility NUCASTLE, powered by Newcastle Building Society, is officially open following a special event welcoming the community to the centre

Around 300 guests including Foundation patrons, trustees, partners, funders, and participants joined celebrations at the community hub on Tuesday, alongside Newcastle United first team head coach Eddie Howe and club captain Jamaal Lascelles.

Newcastle United Foundation Trustee Shola Ameobi officially opened the centre with the ceremonial ribbon cutting on NUCASTLE's spectacular rooftop football pitch overlooking St. James' Park just five minutes' walk away.

Around 2,000 people have already benefitted from activities at NUCASTLE since its soft launch in February, helping communities to engage in sport, develop skills, achieve qualifications, build confidence and progress into further training or employment.

And now open seven days a week, NUCASTLE combines community space with education and wellness facilities, including activity and state-of-the-art cycling studios, specialist STEM room, esports room, four-court sports hall, accessible changing areas, event and meeting spaces, offices and more.

Steve Beharall, Head of Newcastle United Foundation, said: "This is not just an historic day for Newcastle United Foundation, but an historic day for the city of Newcastle and the wider region.

"It has been a tremendous team effort to bring this community hub back to life for children, young people, families and older people who will find meaningful opportunities to change and improve their lives at NUCASTLE.

"Harnessing the power of football alongside the extraordinary support of Newcastle United Football Club, the Premier League, Newcastle Building Society, North of Tyne Combined Authority, Football Foundation, North East LEP and other key partners - we are confident NUCASTLE will be at the heart of our community for generations to come."

A panel discussion on social impact brought together a number of influential community figures at NUCASTLE during the official opening event, including North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll, Northumbria Police Chief Constable Winton Keenen and Premier League Head of Communities Nick Perchard.

Guests also heard messages of support from Newcastle United Foundation patron Gabby Logan, Newcastle United heroes Alan Shearer and Foundation trustee Steve Harper and Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah. And in attendance, Newcastle United Foundation patrons Jonathan Edwards CBE, Bob Moncur and trustee Ameobi shared the significance of NUCASTLE's opening.

Ameobi said: "It's been an incredible journey for the Foundation to formally open its own community venue and it has been a pleasure to be part of the process providing a world-class facility for the North East.

"I grew up in the West End of Newcastle with my family and during my childhood I'd play football at Murray House and meet friends here, where NUCASTLE is now - it's where it all began for me.

"There was always a genuine sense of community here and I am incredibly proud that NUCASTLE has revived that feeling again in the area and I can't wait to see the positive legacy that NUCASTLE creates for our communities."

NUCASTLE offers more than 160 dance, cycle, fitness, and wellbeing classes every month with live and virtual instructors, as well as facility hire of its rooftop 4G football pitch, children's birthday parties and more.

And more than 160 Foundation staff will use the new facility as their home and a range of the charity's award-winning education, community and health and wellbeing programmes will be delivered there - including its innovative NU Futures programme inspiring a generation into education, training and career opportunities.

Faiequl Alom is one young man who has transformed his life with the charity's support and shared his journey of realising his dream of becoming a football coach for Newcastle United Foundation during the opening event.

He said: "During the pandemic, I really lost my way and was so anxious - I had no job, and I was struggling to even leave the house because I felt so low on confidence. Football has always been my escape, but I didn't even want to play or coach during that time and that's all I've ever wanted to do.

"I was referred to the Foundation last year and gradually I started to realise I could achieve my dreams and do what I love - that's coaching football.

"I didn't expect it to happen so quickly, but now I'm working for the Foundation as a coach and achieving my dreams. It feels amazing and I have the Foundation to thank for that."

The Foundation was recently named North East Charity of the Year and supports thousands of people every year through more than 40 individual programmes allowing everyone to achieve their potential. NUCASTLE will play an integral part of the Foundation's programme delivery and is expected to attract more than 100,000 visitors annually.

Robert Sullivan, CEO of Football Foundation, said: "At the Football Foundation, we know from experience the transformative impact grassroots sports facilities can have on people's physical and mental health, bringing communities closer together as well as benefiting local economies.

"Funding from the Premier League, the FA and the Government, through Sport England, has played a vital role in making this project a reality and we look forward to seeing the impact this state-of-the-art facility will undoubtedly have on the community here in the North East."

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