A little girl reaches out over a table full of ingredients so she can begin cooking

£50million milestone for North East Foundation.

A NORTH East charitable Foundation has marked its £50million milestone in grant-making that boosts communities.

County Durham Community Foundation was founded 25 years ago by people who love, live and breathe the North East. With the support of local philanthropists and businesses, the Foundation awards hundreds of small grants each year to community groups and projects making a difference in their postcode.

In the past year alone, the Foundation has awarded £4.9million in small grants to groups that have acted heroically throughout three lockdowns: helping families and individuals facing food poverty, financial meltdown, and an alarming decline in mental health.

Seaham-headquartered business UMi has a named fund with the Foundation and stepped in to help the community when the pandemic struck.

Nicki Clark, chief executive of UMi, said: “We believe that by working together we can make an even bigger difference that we can alone.

“We’ve been building a large community of partners and business individuals who have the power to make a difference, and the talents to build great businesses – all of which can help your business grow and thrive, while also becoming a force for good.

Tackling isolation

“A few years ago we established the UMi Community Fund with County Durham Community Foundation, supporting local charities to enrich the areas where the UMi team live and work across the UK.

“Most recently we were really proud to be part of the Foundation’s decisive response to helping people through the pandemic, particularly tackling isolation and loneliness.

“It’s wonderful to see the Foundation reaching this milestone, and we look forward to our continued work with this empowering and progressive funder.”

Small grants make a big difference

Michelle Cooper, chief executive of the Foundation, said: “It has been a labour of love by many local people to make the Foundation such an important part of the North East. Quite simply, small grants make a big difference.

“A grant of £5,000 can actually help hundreds of people and prevent small problems from escalating. A great example of a group we fund is Lifeline Community Action, which provides baby care packs to families where money is tight.

“It might seem like a small thing, but that pack could mean the family can afford their rent and not end up homeless.

“If you have no money are you going to buy essentials for your baby or let your children go without so you can pay rent? That’s where we help community groups make a sensitive intervention. As well as crisis work, small grants from the Foundation also fund hundreds of projects that bring joy and happiness to children and adults, so people really feel that they are living, and part of something, rather than just getting by.

“I would like to thank everyone who makes these small grants possible.

“Our founder and patron, Sir Paul Nicholson, our tireless ambassador, Lady Sarah Nicholson, our trustees, our staff team and the many people, businesses and organisations that have trusted the Foundation to turn their donations and generosity into life-changing grants.

“And last but not least, the groups that turn these donations into something so special.”

This article appears in the summer edition of Wear Business.