A charity supporting disabled people in North Tyneside with concerns around employability and food poverty has received a financial boost.
With the help of a £3,000 grant from Newcastle Building Society, the North Tyneside Disability Forum has set up a new project to help around 30 disabled and vulnerable people of all ages develop their workplace skills.
In addition, participants will build their own workplace experience by delivering a service to other disabled, vulnerable and disadvantaged local people in food or fuel poverty.
The charity works with and for local disabled people, their representatives, friends and families to ensure disabled people are able to participate on equal terms in society with choice and control over their own lives.
And they will also be able to earn recognised workplace accreditations while taking part in the scheme which will hopefully help them go on to secure further employment opportunities in the future.
The project funding is being provided through the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which offers grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society's branch network.
Founded more than 30 years ago and headquartered in Shiremoor, the North Tyneside Disability Forum usually provides a wide range of free activities for more than 300 people every week, from photography, Tai Chi and music classes to creative arts, drama and a cinema club, and the delivery of its services is supported by a 120-strong team of volunteers.
It also runs a community café which not only provides somewhere for local people to meet and spend time, but also provides opportunities for vocational training and work experience for some of the charity's service users with learning disabilities, with a view to equipping them with new workplace skills.
Sue Adams, chief officer at North Tyneside Disability Forum, says: “The absence of many regular workplace and skills development opportunities has been one of the hidden impacts of the pandemic, with our own experience in our café being a prime example.
“Because we had to close our doors for so many months, the usual opportunities we provide were unavoidably lost - and for people with disabilities, such losses can have a particularly acute impact.
“Launching this new project directly addresses the priorities that our members have communicated to us and will enable dozens of them to get back into the workplace while learning at their own pace.
“Not only will it provide opportunities for our members to learn new skills and gain new knowledge, but it will also help them develop their self-confidence and make them better prepared for independent living, which is the end goal for everyone with whom we work.
“The generous funding that Newcastle Building Society has provided will give dozens of local people more scope to live better lives and we’re very grateful for their invaluable support.”
Newcastle Building Society has been directing its support this year to a range of projects tackling issues linked to employability, as part of helping its communities manage and recover from the impacts of Covid-19.
Sarah Lawrence, manager at Newcastle Building Society's branch in North Shields, adds: “The Forum team’s commitment, enthusiasm and expertise makes a huge difference to the lives of dozens of local families, many of whom have been heavily impacted by the pandemic.
“We’ve focused our grant-giving on helping to tackle issues around employability and food poverty, which is exactly what the Forum are addressing through this project. Their work has never been more important, and we’re proud to be supporting their drive to make an even bigger positive impact on our community.”
Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has also contributed over £2.1m in grants and partnerships to a wide variety of charities and projects across the region, including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Prince’s Trust.
The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 151,000 people.
The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.