10th Mar 2021

A South Tyneside women’s charity has managed to navigate both a big organisational change and the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic thanks to a package of funding and support from the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.  

Women’s Health in South Tyneside (WHiST) has been working to improve the health, wellbeing, education and quality of life of women in South Tyneside since 1986. Following a decision by the longstanding CEO to stand down, WHiST looked to secure support to see them through the changeover and prepare the organisation for the future. WHiST secured a grant of £25,000 and a package of leadership training and governance support through the foundation’s Growth and Resilience Fund. Unbeknownst to either side, the funding and support would also put Corinne and WHiST in a strong position to weather Covid-19.  

Corinne Devine, CEO of WHiST outlines the difference this funding made:    

“The Community Foundation’s support made a huge difference to WHiST, giving us stability at a difficult time. It ensured the CEO transition went smoothly which gave confidence and security to the whole team, from trustees to staff and volunteers. It allowed us to take time to plan and ultimately secure additional funding to provide some protection from the impact of lockdown whilst maintaining services for women in South Tyneside.”  

However, it wasn’t just the funding that made a difference, as Corinne continues:  

“As well as the funding, the foundation offered me a place on a leadership course they had developed with DKS Leadership. The course and the coaching support it included helped me better tackle challenges and work with the team to navigate them. The Foundation’s Trustee Match programme then helped us find new trustees with expertise in HR and Social Enterprise. The combination of funding, training and support was central to helping us get to where we are now”  

As Covid and lockdown hit, WHiST was able to deliver all their services online or by phone and keep their 1300 service users engaged. The team sourced food and medication, helped on housing applications, promoted self care and managed an increase in difficulties including domestic violence and alcohol and drug use. They also developed new services including weekly check ins and providing support to address digital poverty. Staff sent out wellbeing and art packs to women who could not access online or by phone due to lack of IT or lack of confidential or safe space at home.  

Adam Lopardo, Director of Community Relations whose team oversees the fund and this additional support said: 

“We have been developing our sector support work for a number of years. The Growth and Resilience Fund brought it together with funding to give groups like WHiST the support they need to strengthen so they can continue to provide services to those that really need it. WHiST’s success isn’t just down to the fund though. Whilst we invested in WHiST, we also invested in Corinne and Corinne invested valuable time in taking up the opportunities on offer. It’s great to see Corinne and WHiST thrive as a result of that joint investment.” 

WHiST are continuing to provide support to women tackling Covid but are also look to the future with plans to expand their counselling service and develop new services including training.  

For more information on our Sector Support offer visit: https://www.communityfoundation.org.uk/knowledge-and-leadership/sector-support-and-development/ 

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