The Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland and the County Durham Community Foundation are joining a ground-breaking initiative in the Government’s new Civil Society Strategy to distribute inactive charitable funds to good causes. The two foundations, which already award hundreds of grants a to groups from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Darlington, are hoping the scheme will provide a much-needed boost for the region’s charities.

Charitable trust funds can become inactive because the founders have passed away or their original purpose is no longer relevant. Some are also relatively small pots of money. But by being unlocked and, in some cases, pooled, these trusts can go on making a difference to local communities. The North East’s two community foundations have already worked to revitalise many such funds over the years, but this new Government-backed initiative will give an important boost to their efforts.

Rob Williamson, Chief Executive of the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, said: “It is great that as part of its new Civil Society Strategy, the Government is tackling the issue of historic funds which could be doing so much more to help communities across the country. We have made great strides in the North East in getting historic funds transferred to community foundations, where they can be used to support vital local charities. But some are still hard to identify and access. By working with our national network, UK Community Foundations, and the Charity Commission, we hope more of these trusts can be renewed to benefit communities for years to come.”

Michelle Cooper, Chief Executive of the County Durham Community Foundation, said: “The North East of England has a strong tradition of people giving back to communities. Together, the region’s two community foundations have been inspiring and supporting more people to give, but we need also to make best use of the historic funds which have fallen out of use. Between us, County Durham Community Foundation and the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland can make sure any new funds released make a real difference to lives across our region.”

The Government’s Office for Civil Society and the Charity Commission are working with the national network of community foundations to transfer up to £20million of inactive trusts to invest into local communities. It is expected that this will provide an extra £1million in grant funding to local community and voluntary groups across England and Wales every year.

The Minister for Civil Society, Tracey Crouch said, “this initiative will make a real difference to people and communities across the country. By working with UK Community Foundations and the Charity Commission, we will honour the original aims of these now-inactive charitable trusts by redistributing funds to help those that need it most.”