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Weightlifting club in Sunderland opens opportunities for young people

A weightlifting club in Sunderland has been able to widen participation and access to the sport, thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland’s participatory grantmaking programme, which targeted local community organisations in Sunderland. 

Weights and Cakes supports young people to participate in Olympic Weightlifting and has a core mission of increasing social inclusion, improving fitness and well-being, and improving self-confidence. The grant has enabled them to offer scholarships to young people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it. They’ve also been able to fund kit (including shoes, leggings, sports bras, hygiene products and bathroom items), and cover costs for young people to compete at local and national competitions.  

Nils Stronach, Head of Grant Practice and Programmes at the foundation oversees the participatory grant programme and said:  

“We wanted to raise awareness of our funding opportunities to organizations in Sunderland. Working with a panel of local community representatives we were able to give grants to several organizations we hadn’t previously support, including Weights and Cakes. The panel were impressed by Weights and Cakes’ focus on accessibility for people with neurodiversity and special educational needs, as well as by its clear commitment to combatting food poverty through the provision of nutritious meals to its young participants.  

Weights & Cakes’ work has been shown to not only improve physical fitness but also mental wellbeing, and by providing positive structure within a safe space, has a positive impact on school attendance and the reduction of anti-social behaviour. The panel were delighted to award Weights & Cakes £5,000 from the Sunderland Participatory Grant-Making Fund”.  

Zoe Chandler, Founding Director of Weights and Cakes CIC, said:  

“This funding has allowed us to offer some teenage girls only weightlifting sessions and this has in turn led to additional club and competition members.   

Being able to access funding makes an enormous difference to the children, young people, parents and adults in our community. We are able to not only improve their physical health but by building a strong community we can improve their mental health too.   

Without funding from the likes of the Community Foundation we would not be in a position to offer scholarships to those who are usually hardest to reach due to limitations such as cost.”  

The grant was made from the the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland’s participatory grantmaking programme for Sunderland The fund was named ‘Mackem Money’ by the panel of local Sunderland residents who came together to develop the focus and guidelines for the fund. Using their lived experience of the challenges faced by local communities, the panel agreed grants totaling £130,000. The grants prioritised funding for organisations based and working in Sunderland supporting inclusive communities; creating opportunities for healthier and happier people; and raising aspirations. The panel decided to focus on supporting organisations that had an income under £250,000, with priority for those under £100,000.  

Weights and Cakes’ work is featured in the Community Foundation’s latest Vital Signs North East 2024 Health report which you can alongside all the Vital Signs reports released to date at www.communityfoundation.org.uk/vital-signs