There was high praise for Foster Burt and Margaret ‘Penny’
Bennett at the North East Youth ‘Projects for Pride’ awards in early June after
receiving honours for their voluntary service.
Foster Burt, who has been at the Buffalo Community Centre (aka
Cowpen Quay Community Association) since it opened way back in 1974, received
the ‘Trustee of the Year’ award along with the Platinum Award for 40 years
voluntary service at the community centre.
Foster started at the original Buffalo Community Centre,
which was based in the old St John’s Mission Church (in the Cowpen Quay). St John’s Mission Church was in a really bad
state of repair and in 1976 the centre moved to where it is today, on Regent
Street. Foster was based at the Buffalo Community
Centre with the Probation Service with the lads on community helping out to
ensure the building was kept in good repair, caretaking and cleaning of the
After retiring from the probation service Foster remained devoted
to the charity and became a trustee. To this day Foster remains totally
committed to the Buffalo Community Centre.
Current manager of the centre, Eileen Cartie said “Foster has been a massive part of the centre right from the onset and has a variety of experience working with a wide range of people” and added “during my time at the Buffalo, Foster is the person I totally trust, have learnt a lot from, been a fab boss and a person many people aspire to be like.”
Margaret ‘Peggy’ Bennett, 91 also received the Platinum
Award for 40 years service adding to her Red Cross volunteer award. Peggy used to run a group at the centre but
now takes a back seat from day-to-day activities, instead becoming a valuable
member of the group of trustees.
Eileen said of Peggy “She is a stalwart of the centre, remains a committed manager and continues to work hard for the centre and the local community”.
The Buffalo Youth Projects or Youth Groups has been
running here at the Buffalo Community Centre before 2006, but re-established
itself since then and has had some fantastic success stories. Let’s
start with a regular face around the centre and especially within the Buffalo
Youth Projects, Jo.
Jo (now one of the Buffalo Centre’s senior youth
workers) started volunteering at the Buffalo from the age of 15 when she attended
a course, a level one introduction to youth work. Her school found her a placement at the
Buffalo Community Centre and that was the start of Jo’s journey.
Jo says “I was
very shy at first and didn’t really know what to do as I was around about the
same age as the young people, so I didn’t feel like I had much authority.”
After her placement Jo volunteered at the Buffalo for 6
years helping out with the youth club sessions and also volunteering in the
centre. Jo states “I was gaining more
and more confidence as time went on.”
At the age of 22 Jo applied for an upcoming job for a
youth worker at the centre. She put in for
the job, had an interview with the manager and landed the job. This gave Jo me
more confidence as she felt like she was doing a good job. During this time Jo was also at college doing
childcare and education, before going on to University to do a level 4 in early
In 2013 Jo took the opportunity to do a level 3 course
in Youth Work. She was very excited
about starting as it was a fantastic course and Jo really felt like she was
learning more and more which could then be applied to her job. Jo passed all of the modules and is proud that
she didn’t have to resubmit any of them.
One of the youth workers left in 2015 to start a
family, which allowed Jo to do more and more for the youth projects such as
planning sessions, funding applications, setting curriculums for youth work,
attending meetings and building networks.
Since then Jo has taken on the lead role as a senior youth leader. Jo says:
“I love my job and I’m always wanting to better myself.
There is always more to learn and I am enjoying this journey, not only as a
youth worker but I also care about the centre and its future. I really hope to be a valued member of the
community in the future. The centre is part
of me and part of my heart. I put 110% into what I do as I love what I do. “
Jo has gone from strength to strength from a shy 15 year
old to establishing herself as one of the key members of the Buffalo Community
Centre and the Buffalo Youth Group. A
great success story for the centre and the Buffalo Youth Groups.