22nd Jul 2020

Volunteers at the CHANCE Centre

Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland has today announced that the organisation has reached a major milestone in awarding over £1million in grants to 150 charitable groups and local causes across Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.  The monies awarded will help the most vulnerable in our communities; including older people, people with disabilities, people with mental health issues or other challenges that have been heightened due to the impact of Coronavirus.

In March, at the start of the pandemic, the Community Foundation set up its Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund, with an initial investment of £200,000 from its own resources. The fund has seen £100,000 donations from Newcastle Building Society, Sir James Knott Trust and Virgin Money Foundation, as well as many donations from a wide range of business and generous individuals.

The fund has also been supplemented by donations from the National Emergencies Trust Appeal. These combined funds have allowed the Community Foundation to distribute support closest to the point of need in communities across Tyne & Wear and Northumberland in response to Coronavirus, with the Community Foundation now having distributed over £1million to date.

Rob Williamson, Chief Executive of the Community Foundation, said:

“When we set up our fund, we hoped to double our £200,000 investment. To be announcing we have now given out £1 million to over 150 groups with more still to come is humbling. We would not have been able to do that without the huge generosity of local business and individuals, and all those who gave to the National Emergencies Appeal. On behalf of everyone at the Community Foundation, and the groups we’ve been able to help in time of crisis, I want to say a huge thank you.”

Groups working with the elderly, disabled people, people who are homeless, people in food poverty and BAME communities across Tyne & Wear and Northumberland have been supported. One of the most recent recipients that took the total over £1million is Community Help and Neighbourly Care Sunderland (CHANCE), who received a total of £6,500 to support its coronavirus work.

CHANCE provide healthy and nutritious meals for 42 elderly and vulnerable people five days a week

Set up in 1993 from a flat in Burley Garth by a group of volunteers, with the aim of providing training and education to women across the Hendon Ward from the East End through to Grangetown, CHANCE has since developed to serve the whole community and expanded to have its own centre on Rickaby Street, Sunderland.

 The CHANCE Centre is a lifeline to many of the community’s vulnerable and elderly residents, so when a Board member suggested that the centre may need to close as a result of Coronavirus, the response from Julie Maven, Centre Manager at CHANCE and one of the founding volunteers in 1993, was: “…over my dead body!”.

Julie explained: “We’re not just a centre for people in need. Often, we’re the only contact our elderly residents across the Hendon Ward have. We’re a friendly face, a listening ear, some company for people who are very isolated and lonely. These people may only get out once a week to do their shopping, nip to the post office or come to the centre for Fish and Chip Friday to mix and mingle with other lonely and isolated people.

“When lockdown started and the elderly were advised to shield, it meant that so many of them were unable to provide for themselves – they couldn’t buy ingredients to get meals, they couldn’t go out to withdraw cash from the bank to buy any suppliers, they didn’t have the social element of coming to the centre – they were just stuck in doors.

“That’s when CHANCE sprung into action. With the support of grants from organisations like the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, we’ve been able to cook healthy and nutritious meals for 42 elderly and vulnerable people five days a week – totally free of charge – since the start of lockdown. We’ve purposefully kept our operations tight to reduce the risk of the spread of the virus, so this has been done by just two volunteers and me. We cook and prepare the meals, then I head out in my car each day to deliver the food to the most vulnerable and at-risk elderly people in our community.

“It’s been hard work but so rewarding at the same time. To know we’ve helped people to quite literally live through the virus feels like a great achievement. It wouldn’t have been possible without our small but mighty team and of course the support from Community Foundation. A huge thank you to everyone involved!”

A special Easter egg delivery to a local resident

As well as preparing meals for the elderly and those shielding, CHANCE has also been working to support families across the Hendon Ward who have been impacted financially as a result of Coronavirus, with the team at CHANCE preparing and delivering chocolate eggs at Easter, home-baking cookie kits, family cinema packs, and a Sunday dinner in a bag service including fresh veg, gravy granules – everything but the meat to roast.

So much so, Julie and her team at CHANCE have received a commendation from the Lord Lieutenant of Sunderland, and Councillor Michael Mordey – who Julie used to babysit as a child – now volunteers one day a week at the centre. The community response to Julie and her team’s work throughout the pandemic is now seeing calls on CHANCE’S Facebook page to be nominated for a Pride of Britain Award.

Williamson added:

“The work of groups like CHANCE has been extraordinary during the pandemic but we know they, and others like them, work tirelessly every day regardless of crises to make our communities better. Our next task is to support as many of these groups as possible to keep going after this response stage and as we go into recovery and renewal.”

Soon the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland will be announcing the second phase in its support of charities and local causes in light of Coronavirus. While over £1million has already been awarded from the fund, the remaining monies have been ringfenced to support charities and local causes to get back on their feet, as the country begins to ease out of lockdown and adapt to living with the virus in a ‘new normal’.

For more information about the Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund, visit:  https://www.communityfoundation.org.uk

To see a full list of grants awarded to charities and local community groups from the Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund, visit:  https://covidtracker.threesixtygiving.org/funder/GB-COH-02273708

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