The Prima Cheese Team

Poverty Hurts: Prima Cheese team back Appeal.

Following a bumper year of charity work for local charity Red Sky Ball, in which thousands were raised throughout the pandemic, one of the UK’s biggest pizza cheese processors, Prima Cheese based in Seaham, is gearing up for another year of fun and fundraising for its 2022 chosen charity, County Durham Community Foundation. 

Focusing on the foundation’s Poverty Hurts appeal, which is working to tackle the crippling poverty crisis in the county and wider North East, the company will stage monthly events and ongoing charity initiatives throughout the year, as well as introducing a payroll donation option and volunteering opportunities with the foundation’s partner charities for its 150+ staff.  

The Foundation, an independent charitable grant-making foundation supports local groups and projects that have an incredible impact on their community, allowing them to continue and develop their vital work throughout the region. Its Poverty Hurts campaign, launched in the run up to winter last year works with businesses and organisations to fight excess winter deaths and reduce poverty related misery year-round. Donations go directly to groups throughout the county, supporting individuals and families who would otherwise be facing an incredibly tough year, with a profound lack of food and basic provisions, like warm coats, shoes and blankets. 1 in 3 children locally are living in poverty this winter with a staggering 12% of households in the North East unable to keep their homes warm enough.  

Throughout the global coronavirus crisis, the foundation and its benefactors have distributed millions of pounds in vital funding, supporting over 250,000 people across the Tees Valley and County Durham, more than one quarter of the population of the area. Aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the foundation aims to secure a world without poverty, with zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, reduced inequalities and sustainable cities and communities.  

For Prima Cheese, a global family success story firmly rooted in its North Eastern home, the foundation is the perfect partner following a successful first year of having a chosen charity with Red Sky Ball. Throughout 2021, staff and management organised numerous fundraising activities and events ranging from bake sales to company wide quizzes, encouraging every member of the Prima family to engage with the charity’s cause.  A clothing donation point was installed in the factory car park too. 

Celebrating its 25th year in business this year, Prima’s mission in 2022 is to give back further to its local community, as it sends its award-winning cheeses to all four corners of the globe. As well as a full calendar of fundraisers and events, ranging from Masterchef style cook offs to a company wide dance class, the company will also allow its staff to donate via their monthly wages. Staff will also be encouraged to set up their own fundraising pages via the foundation’s digital platform, allowing them to collect donations for their own charity initiatives like running the Great North Run. The team are also hoping to provide volunteer time to the local groups and organisations benefiting from the donation.   

Michelle Cooper, chief executive of County Durham Community Foundation, said: “Meeting the Prima Cheese family just before Christmas was a brilliant experience, as we learned how committed this business is to its staff and the local community where they live. They are as dismayed as we are by the poverty that is rife across the North-East, and are rolling up their sleeves to do something practical about it, sharing their incredible success and continuing all the good they achieved throughout the pandemic. We know that by working together this year, we can make such a positive difference, and that feels really powerful to us.” 

Prima Cheese’s director Nagma Ebanks-Beni MBE, who’s family established the business in the late 90s is especially proud of the company’s record of supporting its local community: 

“Throughout our history as a company, our local community and the people that drive us forward daily have been incredibly important to us. Seaham and the local area are part of the fabric of Prima and over the years we’ve supported numerous local groups, sponsored local sports teams and in 2021 worked with our first ever chosen charity, the incredible Red Sky Ball. I’m so incredibly grateful to Sergio and the team at Red Sky Ball for allowing us to fundraise on their behalf last year. I’m very proud of each member of our team for getting behind the cause to fervently and for giving so generously. Working with County Durham Community Foundation in 2022 will continue this amazing charitable team spirit and most importantly make a real impact to real people’s lives right here on our doorstep,”