A much-loved North Tyneside dance and performance studio, is bouncing back following the award of a £1,500 Covid recovery grant from Open North Foundation.

The not-for-profit, Move It Studios, based in the Memorial Hall, Wallsend, is at the heart of the community, providing an outlet for toddlers right through to those in their late teens. Immediately prior to the pandemic the studio had just under 200 students and took part in competitions throughout the UK.

It is run by Helen Telford supported by assistant principal, Frankie Tulip, four teachers and a number of volunteers

During the lockdown the studio resorted to zoom and other technologies to keep some element of momentum and has slowly battled through to a position where it is now about 70% operational, with reduced class sizes

The Covid grant, which was awarded by fellow not-for-profit, Open North Foundation, will go towards the recruitment of a new member of staff who will provide additional resource to ensure the studio is Covid secure.

Open North Foundation, which was established in July 2020, is a direct response from the business community in the North East to provide financial and in-kind support to small businesses in the region directly hit by the pandemic. It relies on the generosity of companies and organisations in the region to provide donations and has a structure of a board of directors, ambassadors and supporters, all of whom provide their services free of charge.

Helen Telford, said: “We are very integrated within the community of Wallsend and our approach is closely aligned to the ambition that North Tyneside Council has to encourage and support healthy activities based on public demand. We are not all about winning competitions, our aim is to provide students with positive life skills that they can lean on throughout their lives. We have a very strong membership base but we are also supported by a growing number of local people who just want to help and feel involved.

“We want to thank the Open North Foundation and the wide range of very generous employers within the region who have rallied together to support organisations such as Move It Studios. The £1,500 grant is so important to us and it is so nice to know that a body such as Open North Foundation wants us to survive and flourish.”

All grant applications are scrutinised by a committee comprising Board members of the Open North Foundation and in the last year grants have been distributed to a wide range of small businesses in areas such as manufacturing, fitness, brewing, marketing, exhibition and conferencing and food preparation.

Richard Swart, Chair of the Open North Foundation; said: “While much of the country appears to be returning to normal, there is still concern around Covid-19 and the impact it will have during the winter. Added to this, we are now seeing the end of the furlough scheme. So, there is still great uncertainty and this will continue to impact negatively on many small companies, which means the role of the Open North Foundation is as important now as it was one year ago when we launched.

“Thankfully, there are many organisations looking to return to pre-Covid levels and this includes Move It Studios. In making the grant, the Directors were very impressed by the leadership shown by Helen and her team and they also recognised that Move It Studios plays a vital role within the community at a time when good mental health and wellbeing amongst young people is so important.”