16th Oct 2017

Young people with learning disabilities serving afternoon tea to older people in Ryhope

In Sunderland, a collaboration between the Community Foundation and the Spirit of 2012 Trust is providing local groups with £360,000 of new income to promote voluntary action.

Inspired by the London Olympics, Spirit of 2012 was set up by the Big Lottery Fund to empower people to get out, get involved and feel better. Spirit decided that it would invest in fourteen different places across the UK, as part of the legacy of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Spirit saw that community foundations would be ideal partners to connect them with local areas.

Spirit was looking among its fourteen areas to support an urban, coastal community. After careful research and consideration, the Community Foundation identified Hendon and Ryhope in Sunderland. Here there was significant need, but also a concentration of organisations that could deliver great projects. A requirement for match funding was met through the Community Foundation’s Sir Tom Cowie Fund, which had been established by the late philanthropist to benefit young people in Sunderland. Further backing came from Sunderland City Council and the Foundation’s own unrestricted funds.

The Fourteen initiative is now well established. At its heart is a local steering group drawn from the two wards. “By bringing local organisations into the steering group, the Community Foundation has enabled grassroots organisations to help shape the direction of the Fourteen programme in Sunderland,” says Jen McKevitt of Hendon’s Back on the Map project, who has served on the group from the outset. “This has enabled us to make the most of the opportunity that Spirit funding offered to bring local people together to make a difference in their communities.”  

Working with the steering group, the Community Foundation has developed a programme based on a combination of locally-managed small grants, funding for social action and volunteering projects, and support for community events. Steven Rylance, Project Manager at Bluewatch Youth Project describes their involvement: “We’ve been supported by the Community Foundation for over a decade with various grants, and so we see Fourteen as the latest development in a long-term funding relationship. Our project is focused on providing volunteering opportunities to young people with disabilities. It’s challenging work, but we have the track record of working with local young people, and links to local voluntary organisations, that can make it a success. It’s going well, with 44 young people placed to date.”

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