A bus company has driven its grant giving to a 50,000 milestone

18 December 2017

A bus company has driven its grant giving to a £50,000 milestone.
Arriva has donated thousands of pounds to 86 community projects in County Durham since 2001, through County Durham Community Foundation.

Their most recent good cause is Newton Aycliffe charity, Lifeline Community Action, which has bagged £2,000 to help with the cost of premises.

Alwyn White, trustee of the charity, said: “The key difference that this funding makes is that it means we can be in the town centre which we just couldn’t afford otherwise because shop frontage is so expensive.

“We actually started out working from someone’s garden shed, then we had a couple of different spots on an industrial estate but they didn’t last long.

“We do tell people that we couldn’t do what we do without funding like this. Many mistakenly think it’s government funded which of course it isn’t.

“To be based where we are is wonderful because people can get to us and they know where we are because the church was one of the first to be built and many use it for weddings and funerals.
“It’s also useful because the food bank is based here too and we are referrers for it.”

Lifeline Community Action is based at St Clare’s Church, on St Cuthbert’s Way, in Newton Aycliffe. The charity runs several projects, including Helping Hands, which supplies basic household packs of essentials for families in desperate need.
Alwyn, who is a retired teacher, said: “There is a most definite increase in need these days, particularly before Christmas.
“There have been so many cuts and people who have been on benefits for many years are finding it extremely difficult.
“And it’s not just people on benefits who are struggling – people on low wages are too.”

Alwyn says she has huge sympathy for the people that need the charity because of her own circumstances. She said: “I was brought up in poverty myself because my father died when I was young. He had been poorly for a couple of years and I was 16 when he passed away. Both my brother and I had been hoping to go to university and my mother had to go out to work which was a bit unusual at that time. I saw in her the way she was able to manage. We didn’t realise we were poor.”

Arriva set up their grant-giving fund 16 years ago, with a special focus on helping the elderly, the young and the disabled.

Nick Knox, area managing director for Arriva North East said: “We take our role as a large employer within the region very seriously and believe we also have a responsibility to help & support the local communities we serve. Our latest donation means we have now helped over 85 local charities, community projects and voluntary organisations with over £50,000 of funding. It’s fantastic to see the work they do and we are very pleased to be able to support them with not only funding but also our time too.”

Knox added: “The way in which our investment into the Community Foundation has been set up means we should be able to continue to fund local projects for many years to come and we urge people to make use of what is available to them to help improve their local communities.

”Naomi Stevens, from County Durham Community Foundation, helps assess suitable causes for Arriva to donate to.
She said: “Many long-standing North East businesses like Arriva want to give back to the people that make their business a success, which is highly admirable. We work as the ‘bridge’ to help them find causes that they want to support and that help the most vulnerable.“We’re so proud to manage a fund that has been running for such a long time and that has given so much to the community.”