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Virgin Money community anchor funding reaches £10 million as latest round of grants announced

Community groups across the North East of England will share grants totalling over £343,000 as part of the latest Community Anchor funding programme from Virgin Money Foundation, taking the total donated in the region to over £10million.

The latest round of grants will support 10 community groups, from Newcastle to Redcar who all play an important role in supporting people impacted by the rising cost of living through a range of activities. This includes providing crisis support, working with young people experiencing homelessness, supporting community enterprises and providing access to low-cost or free food.

The groups to benefit include Footprints in the Community in Redcar and Back on the Map in Sunderland.

Footprints in the Community aim to address isolation and poverty in and around Redcar providing a network of support to local people and organisations. They have been awarded £25,678.

Footprints in the Community Chief Executive, Ruth Fox said: "For many years we have been a ‘sticking plaster’ on poverty in Redcar and Cleveland – helping people at their point of desperation. It’s time we became more pro-active in helping to determine the reasons why people are living in poverty and do something about it. Ultimately, we want to see an end to Foodbanks. People shouldn’t be in the situation where they need to ‘beg for food’. We will be looking at the work of the Poverty Trust Commission and working with the local Financial Inclusion Group and North East Child Poverty Commission to try and find a solution to this problem."

Sunderland-based Back on the Map have been awarded £30,000. They work with local people to transform the neighbourhood helping to provide good quality housing and trying to reduce social isolation. They also tackle poverty challenges around food, fuel and digital exclusion and increases residents’ confidence and skills to train/apply for jobs and build financial resilience. The Community Anchor funding helps Back on the Map run its important community services and develop more social enterprises to transform empty shops on the high street. These include a Community Pantry, a Men’s Shed, a Social Kitchen plus providing welfare advice and guidance, debt management courses and IT buddies to help people manage their finances online.

Joanne Cooper CEO from Back on the Map said: "The need for our services has never been greater. We have listened to residents and keeping our community hubs and services open is essential during this cost-of-living crisis."

The Virgin Money Foundation has also made a special award of £25,000 to Phoenix Way North East and Cumbria, led by the Angelou Centre, to develop more equitable funding and support for Black-led organisations. This could help shape the future of good funding practice and transform the wider funding system to create more equitable and inclusive funding practices to benefit the lives of the least served communities in the UK.

Janett Walker CEO of Anti Racist Cumbria and Co-Chair of Phoenix Way North East & Cumbria said: "It is not news that there are usually many hurdles for certain groups and organisations to access funding, so we are really pleased that Virgin Money Foundation are supporting the Phoenix Way NE & Cumbria. Evidence from the initial national Phoenix Way fund has shown that by authentically centring Black-led organisations, many communities and groups who have never been able to get funding before can been reached.

Janette added: "The funding from the Virgin Money Foundation will be used initially to develop the Phoenix Way North East and Cumbria’s own infrastructure to enable us to design and build the equitable funding criteria, appoint a decision-making panel and build the necessary delivery and marketing tools. We’re thankful to Virgin Money Foundation and excited to get going!"

Kate Bradley, Interim Executive Director of the Virgin Money Foundation said: "To have awarded over £10 million to North East community groups trying to make a positive social change is amazing, but we know there is more work to do, especially with the rising cost of living impacting families and communities across the region. Organisations and local groups continue to show amazing resilience however and have demonstrated their strength and courage to make positive change happen in the face of this very harsh economic environment. The Virgin Money Foundation, through the Community Anchors programme is passionate about helping these groups support their communities during these difficult times."

The fifth round of grants from the Fund will help these organisations continue to support communities impacted by Covid-19 and the increase in the cost of living.

To find out more about the Virgin Money Foundation, visit: