Newcastle Building Society doubles community Building Improvement Grants to £100,000 Release Date: 21 June Newcastle Building Society has doubled the value of grants available to help charities, community groups and good causes across the North East and Cumbria make much-needed improvements to the buildings they use to £100,000 for 2019. The Society launched its Building Improvement Grants (BIGs) scheme last year by making an initial £50,000 available from its successful Community Fund at the Community Foundation to fund capital projects within community buildings. Springfield Community Association in North Tyneside was chosen as the first funding recipient, with a £49,110 grant enabling the Association to completely refurbish its 40 year-old Forest Hall community centre. With around 30 applications to the BIGs scheme received last year, Newcastle Building Society has doubled the amount of money available this time round. The £100,000 will be allocated according to the quality and number of applications, and could be allocated into anything from two lots of £50,000 down to ten £10,000 grants. Nominations by customers for the BIGs scheme need to be submitted by the closing date of Friday 28 June. Shortlisted entrants will be invited to submit a more detailed application form, before a decision on how the funding is to be allocated is revealed in the autumn. The Springfield Community Association project included the conversion of the community centre’s lobby area into a more user-friendly space that is now used for a range of different activities, as well as the installation of a new kitchen, accessible toilet and baby change facilities. Linda Hoffman, secretary at Springfield Community Association, says: "The grant has made a terrific difference to our work. We’ve had lots of people from across both the Forest Hall community and our user groups commenting on the amazing transformation of the centre, and have seen an increase in enquires into what we offer as a result. “I would definitely encourage anyone thinking of applying for a BIG grant to try it - we didn’t think we’d get it as we wanted almost the full amount, but here we are!” In addition to its Building Improvement Grants, the Society’s Community Fund also enables members to nominate charities and community groups in or around its branch network for smaller grants of up to £3,000. 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. Andrew Haigh, chief executive at Newcastle Building Society, said: "Supporting and enhancing our communities is core to what we do, and both our branches and wider organisation have strong, active links to community groups and charities right across our region. “Seeing the difference that our first BIG grant made to Springfield Community Association has inspired us to try to make even more of an impact in our local communities this time around, hence the decision to increase the amount of money we’re making available. “Our grants panel is open to hearing all kinds of ideas, whether for a new build scheme or the expansion, renovation or replacement of an existing facility, and will allocate the fund in the way we feel will bring the maximum benefit across our heartland area.” Full details of the grants and eligibility criteria are available on the newcastle.co.uk website, while applications can be made by Society customers in any of its branches or via the website. The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation is operated in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.