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Local and national organisations benefit from Opencast Charitable Fund at the Community Foundation

Independent tech consultancy Opencast has supported six charitable organisations through its Opencast Charitable Fund at The Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland. Local recipients include a North East river pollution trust, an ex-offenders’ recruitment service and a Newcastle-based elderly care support agency. UK-wide they include a refugee education programme, a rewilding nature project and a suicide prevention campaign.

Opencast’s people voted to support charitable orgnaisations that fall under the company’s three social impact priorities: a fairer economy and society; better health and wellbeing; and thriving places and planet.

The company’s donation to the Opencast Charitable Fund at the Community Foundation in 2023 is over £66,000, drawn from the 2.5% committed from its profits in the past year. Other charitable donations mean that Opencast’s total non-profit commitment in 2023 is just under £104,000.

The six organisations were chosen by Opencast’s people after a vote across the company, and include three working in the North East and three with a UK-wide focus. Each of the six organisations chosen for this year receives a grant of £9764.

Opencast’s six choices for 2023

A fairer economy and society

Refugee Education UK – equipping young refugees to build positive futures by thriving in education. Welcoming the grant, RE said: “Opencast’s support will enable Refugee Education UK to provide a vital service to young refugees facing practical and psychosocial challenges which risk derailing their educational progression and thriving. It will communicate a clear message that they have a future worth investing in and preparing for.”

The Recruitment Junction – working to support people with convictions into paid work across North East England. They said: “We’re thrilled to have received an Opencast grant award, which is a significant contribution to our goal of placing 200 people with convictions into paid work across the North East in 2024. Without the deterrent effect of paid work, 65% of boys with a father in prison will follow down the same path – instead we see parents rediscover a sense of purpose through employment, becoming role models to their own children and lifting themselves and their families out of poverty.”

Better health and wellbeing

CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) – provoking conversation, running life-saving services, and bringing people together so they reject living miserably, get help when they need it and don’t die by suicide. They said: “Every 90 minutes, someone will die by suicide. Opencast’s grant of £10,000 could enable us to be there for around 1,250 life-saving conversations on our helpline. That’s 1,250 chances to save someone’s life.”

SEARCH – Services For Older People – providing support, activities and information to the over 50s in the West End of Newcastle. SEARCH said: “Since the pandemic older people living in Newcastle’s high-rise flats have been some of the hardest-hit communities, fears of entering lifts, communal areas and lack of green space impacted their confidence and health. Over the past year we have started to rebuild the confidence of these communities, but this is a longer-term piece of work, so we are excited to have funding from Opencast to contribute towards continuing this project.”

Thriving places and planet

Rewilding Britain – working to see rewilding flourishing in Britain, reconnecting us with the natural world, sustaining communities and tackling the extinction and climate crises. They said: “A grant from the Opencast Charitable Fund will contribute to the development of the Rewilding Network. This will help us increase our support of rewilding initiatives on the ground and to build evidence that supports our work to remove policy and legislation barriers to rewilding. By propelling action-focussed rewilding, we can move closer to a Britain that’s more resilient to climate breakdown as well as wilder in nature.”

Tyne Rivers Trust – works with people and communities to protect and enhance the River Tyne and its tributaries. TRT said: “The Eals Burn and Grindon Lough restoration is well designed and will achieve significant improvements for rare species and climate resilience. This donation means we can deliver ‘the full package’, ensuring long-term protection of our small part of the planet and the wildlife that will thrive within it.”

Stef Monaco, Opencast’s head of social impact, said: “For the second year running, we gave our people the chance to have a say in choosing which non-profits should benefit from our grants in 2023. We’re delighted on the back of that to have finalised our six non-profits of choice – and hope the grants will help them to make a real difference to the people and communities they serve. Huge thanks to the team at the Community Foundation.

“As a business, we’re looking to grow the positive social impact we make. That’s one reason why we’re looking at supporting non-profits beyond annual grants, through pro bono or low bono work, and an active volunteering programme. We want to deliver more impact by serving purpose-driven organisations and through them improve life for everyone, and specifically underserved populations.”

Opencast chief executive Tom Lawson added: “Making a positive impact has always been part of Opencast’s DNA through the work we deliver for clients and our ongoing support for great non-profits creating an impact in wider society. Our people’s desire to support non-profits reflects our collective determination to make a real difference.

“With our profits higher we have been able to commit more money to the Opencast Charitable Fund. With our strong growth continuing, it is essential that others benefit from our success.”

Elaine Holdsworth, senior philanthropy advisor at the Community Foundation, said: “We were delighted to work again this year with Opencast and help the team choose their 2023 charities. We can see Opencast’s commitment to addressing social inequality, improving lives and life chances, and delivering environmental benefits for communities with these grants. What has been clear is how much the staff are engaged in the selection process, using their own time to help identify their funding priorities and organisations they would like to support.”

She added: “Opencast is clearly passionate about making a positive impact on our communities by committing 2.5% of its net profits to support them. It’s fantastic to also see them developing meaningful longer-term relationships with charities and community organisations beyond grant making.”

Opencast is an independent and privately owned full-service UK technology consultancy specialising in designing, building and running user-centred digital and technology solutions.

Bringing together expertise in digital human experience, technology optimised operations, innovation and emerging technology, and data-driven insights, Opencast works with UK public sector bodies, healthcare organisations and businesses to develop services that include support for critical national infrastructure and help for millions of citizens.