Community Outreach

Something to Smile About – Supporting Local Children and Families

Seven Stories is situated in Ouseburn, in the east of Newcastle right on the doorstep of Byker and Walker. We work closely with partners to use children’s book inspired activities to improve the lives of children and young people.

Our work during lockdown was Highly Commended at the Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award From Home in their Going the Extra Mile category. We were also recognised at the Museums Change Lives Awards winning Best Lockdown Project for our work to support disadvantaged communities during the crisis.

1. COVID Response

Throughout this crisis, we have been working at the heart of our community with schools and partners in the voluntary sector to support vulnerable children and families. Keeping children happy, active and busy through this unsettling time is essential for their mental health. We've been using books and stories that explore wellbeing themes including friendship, supporting and valuing others and dealing with fears and anxiety during lockdown. However many families that we work with have few resources at home to support creative play and keep children entertained.

We responded quickly to support local families through this difficult time by sharing online storytimes and providing packs with books, craft materials and activity ideas directly to family homes that needed them the most. We even donated the food from our cafe freezer to a local Mutual Aid Group in Byker providing food parcels to people in need. We'd like to thank Fusion PR Creative, ASDA in Byker and RW Mann Trust for helping us out by funding craft and drawing materials.

2. Stories for Life

Stories for Life is an exciting new project developed in partnership with Barnardo’s Newcastle Community Family Hub East, with funding from BBC Children in Need, to use books and imaginative play to support disadvantaged under 5s and their siblings living in Byker and Walker.

The project aims to:

  • Improve early communication skills including speech and language acquisition through repeated story encounter.
  • Improve emotional wellbeing and development by helping children understand the world around them while having fun
  • Improve family relationships between young children and their parents or carers through spending quality time together, reading and having fun.

We have been working in partnership with Seven Stories to provide activities for children and families living in Community Family Hub East area of Newcastle. These activities have enabled families to engage in story sessions that they would not always have experienced due to many barriers whilst also supporting learning and communication skills for the most vulnerable children to improve their future outcomes.

Community Family Hub East is passionate about giving children and young people opportunities to learn and develop and the best possible start in life. Working with Seven Stories has supported our work to do this. Seven Stories has contributed to our amazing start programme for under 5's for families living in Community Family Hub East."

Simone James, Senior Early Help Practitioner, Community Family Hub East

Here's Seven Stories Creative Associate Molly introducing the project which started in June 2020:


3. Story Kitchen

Families from Byker Primary School have been taking part in our exciting new food-themed project Story Kitchen. Along with fabulous food-themed children's books, video storytimes and creative activities we have been delivering regular cook-along videos and recipe kits with help from our friends at Food Nation. Taking part in creative activities can help keep our brain and body healthy, relieve anxiety and boost mental health. Our story packs encourage the whole family to play, make and have fun together.

Sessions have included the chance to cook homemade fish fingers inspired by the book I Will Not Ever, Never Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child. Activity packs even included a tomato plant for children to grow their own!

This project has been made possible with funding from Well NewcastleGateshead (Bluestone Consortium).

4. Reader in Residence Programme

Seven Stories Reader in Residence programme usually places a member of the Seven Stories team into a school every week for a full academic year. Readers in Residence can work with the whole school community - children, staff, parents and carers for a strategic approach to Reading for Pleasure and improved literacy.

Each Reader in Residence programme is unique, with an activity programme designed to develop a love of books throughout the school and at home, increasing motivation to read, confidence, wellbeing and literacy skills.

During lockdown, we have moved our Reader in Residence programmes online. Our Creative Associate Megan has been sharing amazing storytimes and creative activities for all year groups at Byker Primary School and St Lawrence Primary School. This activity is funded by the St Nicholas Educational Trust.  

The Reader in Residence scheme has supported our children to find a true love and thirst for stories. Through the interactive story sessions delivered by Megan ALL our EYFS children have blossomed in confidence when joining in… to have a deep understanding of the meaning behind new language and the story itself.Byker Primary School
The Reception children LOVED Fridays and looked forward to it all week. Megan's arrival was always greeted with excitement and anticipation. During lockdown Megan has still been reading stories and developing activities for us online. One parent has emailed me to say 'My child absolutely loved seeing the story from Meghan, it was nice to see a familiar face.St Lawrence Primary School

We are currently taking enquiries for September so please contact John Beattie, Business Development Manager, for more information.

5. Stories on Board 

On Board with Stories is an imaginative programme of creative learning activities that uses books and story to help disadvantaged young children build their happiness and resilience, understand themselves and others, and make sense of the world around them.

Starting in November 2020, we will work with children’s centres to engage families living in disadvantaged or socially isolated communities. Together with community partners, we will be delivering story times, rhyme and song, book chat, sensory play and creative activities to offer parents and children the opportunity to enjoy stories, play and sharing time together.

Our four chosen children’s centres are located in Durham; East Newcastle; Sunderland and Ashington, nr Morpeth and fall along the northeast mainline route.  On Board with Stories is funded by LNER's Customer and Community Investment Fund (CCIF).

Contact Us

If you’re interested in finding out more about our work with the local community and health partners and/or would be interesting in working with Seven Stories please contact 

Thank you to Arts Council England and Newcastle Culture Investment Fund at Community Foundation whose regular support makes these programmes possible.