It was a cold, but everyone left feeling warm and fuzzy after last night’s Awesome Newcastle. The finalists bravely stood in front of a crowd of strangers at The Edwards Beer garden and discussed challenging but important issues. We listened to ideas addressing homelessness, emotional health for children and inclusiveness in the arts.
The evening was a bit out of the ordinary as we welcomed SIX guest board members. Three folks from The Village of Useful, Jasmine, James and Emma graciously gave cash and participated, and we also welcomed Gaeton Amodeo from Stolthaven, Shaun Coutman from Plateau Foods and Grant Long from Long Legal. Their friendly faces were a great addition to the winter evening.
Finalist Nicole Neave from The Authentic Child was the first person to chat with us. A child counselor who’s witnessed many traumatic situations, Nicole told us an emotional story about her business. Here she teaches drama, public speaking and debate classes to children ages 3-12 years old, helping them deal with life’s ups and downs. Last night she stressed how important it is for children to learn skills that build confidence at a young age, particularly as they face more challenges during adolescence.
Louise Le Raux spoke next about her desire to create better mobile accommodation for homeless people. Her dream is to design a portable ‘mobile home’ that can replace shopping trolleys for homeless people, complete with functionality like a usb port, a cold storage area, etc. She talked about the challenges that come with being homeless in Newcastle, particularly for people who struggle with mental health problems like PTSD. She spoke honestly and tearfully about her own challenging experiences being homeless in Newcastle, and how she’d like to make it so that people in similar situations to her wouldn’t be faced with the same struggles she did.
Last up were local artists Gillian Adamson & Caitlin Dempsey. The pair spoke about their plans to create a community event in Newcastle that focuses on gender equality, called Banshee. They want to bring together diverse local artists and musicians. The event will run for half a day in November at local venue Tiny Boat at Softys and showcase bands, DJs, performance artists and physical artworks. The two have already begun planning and fundraising and hoped to use the grant money to help pay the artists during the event.
The board members debated, discussed and cast their votes. The finalists spoke to one another and waited patiently for the outcome.
Once the winner was was decided, guest board member Grant thanked all finalists for their passion and their initiative, and we reminded everyone that applications never expire so they can easily get another shot at winning the cash. Then he passed the sack of cash to Nicole, congratulations! She’s excited and is hoping to use the money to create more opportunities to reach out to children and give them the strong foundations they need.