Three charities that work across South Tyneside have been chosen by the region’s biggest building society to share a £12,000 donation.
Newcastle Building Society has awarded a grant of £5,000 to Churches Together in South Tyneside, which coordinates the work of volunteers from 60 churches around the area in delivering a wide range of community support services, including Happy at Home for older people, the Key 2 Life foodbank, holiday ‘Food & Fun’ and School Uniforms 4 All.
A further £4,000 has been given to Hospitality & Hope in South Shields, which offers a food bank and other support services to vulnerable and homeless people across the local community, while Women’s Health In South Tyneside has received a £3,000 grant to support its drive towards improving the health, well-being, education and quality of life of local women.
The 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.
The donation forms part of the £1.5m community commitment made in 2020 by the Society to help the region manage and recover from the impact of Covid-19.
Churches Together in South Tyneside assists around 150 vulnerable and isolated people living across the area every week and has adapted the services it provides in the light of the changes to local needs brought about by the pandemic.
The social events and lunch clubs that it previously provided were initially replaced with ‘garden gate’ and outdoor visits to service users’ homes, with indoor visits being reintroduced in the autumn once suitable PPE was available to volunteers.
Regular catch-up phone calls are also being made by volunteers, with birthday cards and gifts also given out on service users’ special days.
A ‘bubble rota’ has been introduced at the Key 2 Life food bank that it runs from Boldon Lane Library to ensure it can be staffed safely and continue to distribute the 4,000 food parcels it delivers to local families in need every year.
Bernadette Askins, chair of Churches Together in South Tyneside, says: “Bringing all the resources of our different churches together under one banner maximises the collective impact we can have, and this approach has been especially important over the last year.
“Quite a few of our volunteers have had to shield themselves at times over recent months, but we’ve been able to get support from a good number of younger people who’ve been on furlough and many of them have decided to stay involved with the project.
“The wonderful feedback we get from the people we help is the best part of our work. Having someone take an interest in how they are clearly means a great deal to so many of them and is helping keep them connected to the outside world at a time when this connection could so easily be lost.
“The support we’ve had from Newcastle Building Society is helping us cover the cost of increasing and delivering the services we provide, and is making a real difference to the lives of dozens of people living across our community.”
Stewart Nicol, manager at Newcastle Building Society's Denmark Centre branch in South Shields, adds: “The work of Churches Together in South Tyneside provides the platform for so many good things that happen in our community and it’s hugely impressive to see how they’ve risen to the challenges of the last year.
“The three South Tyneside charities we’re supporting with these grants deserve immense credit for the help they offer to local people in need and we’re very pleased to be able to help all of them continue to deliver their invaluable services.”
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.
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Society also made a £100,000 contribution to the Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund set up by the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.
The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.