The team at Holme House with supplies for people leaving prison

Heatwave prompts emergency response.

During recent record temperatures, County Durham Community Foundation was approached by a Tees Valley charity seeking to help those at risk.

TEES (Together, Engage, Encourage Support) needed funding for emergency supplies to help people sleeping rough. The charity also wanted to help people struggling with addictions, the elderly and the isolated.

The Foundation team rallied to find a supporter who would fund this project. They approached Northern Powergrid, which generously offered TEES a £1,500 grant. The money bought bottled water, hats, sunscreen, deodorant, biodegradable hand wipes, toothpaste and bodywash.

Tonia Nixon, who founded the charity, said: “We wanted to put together survival kits for people who would be very vulnerable in the heat.”

“It’s about dignity. Giving items like this is very practical, and lets people know they are cared for. People really appreciated it. The heat can make people so ill, especially when they already have health problems. This was one way to intervene and hopefully stop people ending up in hospital.”

The TEES team worked on the project with We Are With You, a charity that supports people who have issues with addiction and mental health. The team also partnered with HMP Holme House, and NEPACS, a charity which helps people leaving prison.

Within two days of applying for funding, supplies were sent to the charities for distribution.

Michelle Cummings, social responsibility manager at Northern Powergrid, the company responsible for the electricity distribution network in the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, said: “Whilst the heatwave did not cause major widespread disruption across our network, we know the extreme heat was challenging for many people in the communities we serve, particularly those who were more vulnerable due to their personal or medical circumstances.

“Our partnership with County Durham Community Foundation meant we were able to offer this vital support when local people needed it most and be a force for good that is beyond our network which powers peoples’ everyday life. Working effectively with local partners during severe weather events is something we are committed to doing in the months and years ahead.”

Michelle Cooper, chief executive of County Durham Community Foundation, said: “We are here for our communities and that is the bottom line. TEES do incredible work and help people at their lowest point by treating them with dignity and respect. I am pleased and humbled that we could join Northern Powergrid and this excellent charity together to help people in dire need.

“In the past year we’ve put together emergency funding following a series of severe storms, and the recent heatwave created serious problems for people who were already vulnerable. As time goes on, it is likely that we will see more and more issues relating to extreme weather, and we promise to do all we can to help.” 

Northern Powergrid offers a free Priority Services Membership for people who may be more vulnerable due to their personal or medical circumstances. To find out more about additional advice and support available visit To find out more about the range of partnerships Northern Powergrid has in place to support its customers and the communities it serves visit

About County Durham Community Foundation

County Durham Community Foundation works with local communities to fund projects that enrich lives and reduce poverty. Founded 27 years ago, the Foundation connects people who love to give with local causes that really matter. The Foundation makes grants to local community groups that tailor projects to meet local need. With the generosity of its supporters, the Foundation has awarded £19million in small grants over the past five years.

About Northern Powergrid

Northern Powergrid is the electricity distribution network operator for the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire. It delivers power safely and reliably to 8 million customers across 3.9 million homes and businesses through its network of more than 63,000 substations and 60,000 miles of overhead power lines and underground cables, spanning some 9,650 square miles.