Why we exist

We want to create a world where young people believe in their own ideas and can take responsibility for living them.

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 it.

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 three 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 provides the spark to ignite the passions of 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.

Meet the team

Hannah Underwood

CEO (Maternity Leave)
0191 731 7838

Hannah has been running The Key since 2005. She’s played, and continues to play, a huge role in shaping and leading The Key, helping us to become the focussed, savvy and forward thinking organisation that we are today.

Austin McNamara

Interim CEO (Maternity Cover)
0191 731 7837

Austin is responsible for driving the organisation forward during Hannah's maternity leave. He is passionate about increasing the number of young people who are inspired to believe in themselves through The Key Framework.

Richard Fergie

Director of Impact
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.


Erin Embleton

Operations Director
0191 731 7836

Erin oversees The Key’s administrative and back offices services whilst monitoring the organisation’s finances and operations.

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.

Selina Turner

Community Fundraising Manager
0191 731 7833

Selina supports The Key's fuel team by bringing fresh ideas to The Key's business and community fundraising team. Selina oversees The Key's community fundraising work and supports our amazing fundraisers to reach their personal goals through sponsored runs, zip wires, events and more.

Una MacDermott

Project Manager
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.

Christine Dodds

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.