One of the leading lights of a close-knit North Shields community is moving onto pastures new and he’s leaving a legacy of positivity and community involvement.
Phil McGrath, CEO of Meadow Well Estate’s Cedarwood Trust has taken up a new appointment as Community Leader of The L’Arche Community in Preston after seven years at the helm of the North Tyneside charity.
In those seven years, Phil has left his mark on the community by overseeing the move of the charity from premises above a shop to their new home in a larger community centre within the heart of the estate. The new premises have enabled Cedarwood to expand its services to include a nursery, community drop in spaces and hosting community theatre by The Blowin’ A Hooley Theatre Group.
Phil’s priorities were driven by the needs, hopes and aspirations of residents on the Meadow Well Estate. From very rocky beginnings he was determined to make Cedarwood more financially sustainable. He raised the profile of the charity nationally with Funders, Universities, and the “Poverty network”, largely because of his understanding of the underlying issues and strategic approach to tackling these.
Phil’s vision and passion for the area have also led to new play areas for children and a unique service where some of the estates older residents help others by cooking meals and spending time with those people who find it difficult to leave their homes.
Lately Phil arranged for the United Nations special rapporteur for extreme poverty and human rights, Phillip Alston to visit Cedarwood Trust on his tour of the UK.
Phil said; “Philip Alston’s visit to Cedarwood was to see how we help people affected by extreme poverty and social deprivation. Our focus has always been on the development of individuals of all ages and our fight to reduce the inequalities faced by residents which leads to negative life chances. We want the best for everyone on this estate and that message was given loud and clear.”
Phil’s new role heading up a charity for people with learning disabilities will be based in Preston, Lancashire – a short drive from his home in Lancaster.
“I’ve commuted to Tyneside for the last seven years and part of my reasoning for moving on is down to the excessive travelling and time spent away from home. I will miss the Trust, the people and the area and I’m happy to be leaving it it in the capable hands of the Trustees and Wayne who is replacing me,” said Phil.
Phil is replaced in the New Year by Wayne Dobson who joins the Trust having previously worked with charity, Humankind in Teesside.
Trustee Karen Schofield said: “In Phil we had an exceptionally hardworking and caring individual – inclusive and un-judgmental, respectful and caring. He dealt with people in crises with authority and compassion. We are very grateful for all that he has done on behalf of the residents and Trustees and wish him every happiness with the L’Arche Community. Our loss is their gain.”
Photos : Paul Lowderby