Why we exist

We want to create a world where all young people are inspired to believe in themselves and achieve their full potential.

Believing in potential

We believe life is much more rewarding when you are in control of the things that really matter and when you can experience life on your own terms.

We know young people have amazing potential. That’s why we work our socks off to provide them with a framework to discover what they’re capable of and to generate the drive and determination to do something meaningful with their lives.

We are a passionate and ambitious charity on an exciting journey. Our three-year strategy looks ahead to 2024 and sets out our future focus and strategic priorities as we look to inspire belief in even more young people. Read it here.

Why believe in us

From the past five years, here are just a handful of reasons why you should get involved and believe in what we do.



Young people have participated in The Key Framework, and built the 12 Key Skills over the past five years.


projects have been designed by young people


other members of the community have benefitted from participating in the young people's projects


successful steps into employment, education, training or volunteering were made by young people.

Where we work

The Key inspires belief in young people, aged 11-25, across the North East of England.


The Key Framework began life back in the late 70’s as the brainchild of a determined group of youth workers and academics based in the North East. Since then, we’ve built a charity around it to enable hundreds of other youth and community organisations to deliver it too.

As an organisation, The Key has cleverly evolved and adapted over the years to the ever-changing environment for charities and young people. But we’ve always stuck to our roots and are very proud to have kept The Key Framework at the core of everything we do. What’s more, we’re continually finding ways to maximize its impact on young people.

We are looking forward to a bright future ahead with big ideas as we inspire belief in more and more young people.

Read our three-year strategy to find out more about what the future holds for The Key and our young people.

Meet the team

Richard Haigh

0191 731 7837

Richard is responsible for driving the organisation forward and ensuring even more young people facing challenging circumstances get the opportunity to be inspired and empowered through The Key Framework.

Hannah Underwood

Director of Growth and Innovation
0191 731 7838

As Director of Growth and Innovation, Hannah helps to shape the future of the charity by leading on our innovative growth plans and ultimately inventing ways to inspire belief in more of our target young people than ever before.

Ashley Elliott

Head of Marketing and Income Generation
0191 731 7834

Ashley is responsible for overseeing The Key's Marketing and Income Generation, ensuring we have the funds and presence needed to continue to inspire belief in as many young people as possible.

Una MacDermott

Head of Programme Delivery
0191 731 7832

Una oversees all of The Key's brilliant programmes and ensures we reach as many young people as possible year on year. Una also manages The Key Network and offers a helping hand to all of our lovely Key Facilitators.

Erin Embleton

Head of Business Support
0191 731 7836

Erin oversees The Key’s business support services, looking after the administrative and back office support whilst monitoring the organisation’s finances and operations too.

Abbie Foster

Fundraising and Marketing Manager
0191 731 7831

Abbie supports The Key’s fundraising efforts by making sure we have the funds we need to continue to inspire belief in as many young people as possible. Abbie is also responsible for ensuring the organisation meets our marketing goals.

Christine Dodds

Business Support Administrator
0191 731 7830

Christine oversees the day to day running of all things administration at The Key, helping to manage the network and answer any questions our Key Facilitators have.

Jack MacKenzie

Programme Delivery Co-ordinator
0191 731 7835

Jack plays a vital role in supporting and training The Key's brilliant members and Key Facilitators whilst helping to nurture and grow The Key Network. Jack also oversees The Key Youth Board and volunteers.

Leah Roberts

Project Manager
0191 731 7838

Working to support The Key's overall growth and innovation ambitions, Leah helps to initiate, plan, deliver and manage exciting growth-related projects.

Richard Fergie

Impact Expert
0191 731 7839

Richard is in charge of all things data at The Key, helping to integrate the vast amount of data we collect to prove and improve our fantastic work.


Jess Allwright

Marketing and Income Generation Executive
0191 731 7830

Jess joins The Key on placement from University and plays an imporant role in our marketing and income generation team. Looking after our social media channels, Jess helps to build relationships with young people, delivery partners and supporters too.

Loren Evans

Programme Delivery Assistant
0191 731 7830

Loren joins us as an apprentice as part of the government's Kickstarter scheme. Loren is playing an imporant role in boosting The Key's youth engagement startegy whilst helping to nurture and grow The Key Community too.

Meet the Trustees

Tom Thomas


Tom is one of the most experienced Key Facilitators in the North East. He has been a member of the Key Board of Trustees for over 10 years and has used the Key process both practically as a facilitator and strategically, as the Manager of several youth organisations.

Tom started working with young people in Stoke when he was just 16 giving him 40 years of experience to date. His first taste of the North East was in Scotswood, Newcastle where he worked with some of the most deprived young people in the region. He then went on to work for the National Children’s Play and Recreational Unit where he was a Programme Director for Children Today in Leicester, an action research project into Best Practice in children’s play.

Tom then went on to work for Lego as a consultant designing play areas for children and young people, this work took him over to Ireland for a time too. Tom went back to Stoke and became a Community Development Manager before returning the North East in 2000 to run the Youth Inclusion Project in North Washington. This is where Tom first used the Key process as a facilitator. Since that time, Tom moved to Wansbeck as a Programme Manager for Crime Concern. Tom championed the Key process in Wansbeck and built up a strong and vibrant network of facilitators who still today remain very active and supportive. Tom currently works on a freelance basis as a trainer and consultant to the youth sector in the North East. This has recently included setting up 3 youth projects in Newcastle.

Tom is a keen paddler, formerly a keen judoka. His recent work with “With Land on Our Left” (a Key Case Study group) has been amongst the most rewarding in a very long career.