A thriving North Tyneside community market is laying down new roots with the help of a four-figure grant from their local Newcastle Building Society branch.
Green Beans Community Market takes place on the last Sunday of every month on platform two of Whitley Bay’s Metro station, with around 40 stallholders selling a wide range of crafts, gifts and produce to up to 500 visitors every month.
The market’s organisers had been looking to find additional space into which to expand so it increase the number of stalls it could host, and had gained approval from station owners Nexus to use part of platform one at the station.
To help meet the cost of putting its expansion plans into action, Green Beans was awarded a £2,589 grant via Newcastle Building Society's Park View branch in the town – and it has already recruited the ten new stallholders it needed to fill the newly-available space.
The funding has been provided by the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which has been set up to provide grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society's branch network, and put forward for support by its customers.
First held five years ago, Green Beans Community Market focuses on healthy food, local produce, gardening and upcycling, and is part of a wider initiative based around the nearby Station Master’s community garden.
Alongside its stalls, the market is increasingly holding pop-up arts events, including live music, story-telling and creative activities, with four banners designed by local people to show a ‘window on Whitley Bay’ now being on display each month.
Each monthly market is run by a team of around 15 volunteers, with an organising committee of eight people responsible for planning its continuing development.
Steve Taplin, chair of the Green Beans Community Market organising group, says: “The idea for the market came about as a way of selling some of the produce that was being grown by local people in the station master’s garden, with the proceeds going back towards supporting community improvement schemes, and it’s really taken off in the last couple of years.
"We’re making each monthly market much more of an event to help keep visitors coming back and we keep fees low to encourage local people and charities who might be thinking about setting up their own stall to give it a go.
“With our space on platform two full every month, the natural place to go seemed to be platform one and once we’d got permission from Nexus to cross the tracks, we needed to make some improvements to ensure it would be safe for stallholders and visitors to use.
“The response from potential stallholders that we had on our waiting list was immediate and it’s brilliant to have so many new stallholders taking their place on platform one.
"Our expansion wouldn’t have happened this quickly without the generous support we’ve had from Newcastle Building Society and we’re hopeful that offering even more shopping options will help to further increase the number of visitors we get each month.”
Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has contributed over £494,707 in grants and partnerships with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Princes Trust. The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 151,000 people.
The most recent application period saw 40 projects that had been nominated by Society customers receive a total of £94,982 between them.
Grant applications for a maximum of £3,000 can be made in any Society branch or via the newcastle.co.uk website by customers who wish to support their local communities. There are larger grants of up to £50,000 also available to assist groups in improving or maintaining community buildings.
Abbe Hurn, manager at Newcastle Building Society's Whitley Bay branch, adds: “The Market is a really vibrant part of our community and brings together a wide range of local people, visitors and groups in a friendly, positive environment.
“Supporting the communities in which we’re based is central to who we are and helping Green Beans to keep growing is a great way for us to be doing so here.”
The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.