Big changes start locally

Virgin Money Foundation announces first round of grants

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  • Grants of up to £50,000 awarded to 25 projects across the North East, from Lynemouth to Middlesbrough
  • Community projects range from social enterprises creating jobs in a healthy food takeaway and a specialist garment manufacturing business, to a housing service for vulnerable women and children

The Virgin Money Foundation (the ‘Foundation’), the independent charitable foundation launched by Virgin Money in August 2015, has announced that it has awarded its first round of individual grants to 25 charitable organisations across the North East region. A total of almost £900,000 is being donated.

The Foundation was launched with £8 million of funding over the next four years, contributed by Virgin Money and by the Cabinet Office. In August, the Foundation invited applications from community projects in the region looking for funding of between £10,000 and £50,000. Response from across the region was extremely strong, and eligible applications were judged against criteria including overall impact, enterprising behaviour, jobs created and the amount of additional investment likely to come into an area.

The spread of grants announced today includes:

  • 9 grants linked to helping disadvantaged young people into employment
  • 9 grants that will support a new or existing social enterprise
  • 7 grants linked to helping homeless people find and keep a home

Grant recipients include:

Food Nation is a social enterprise involving the set-up of a ‘healthy food’ takeaway in Sandyford, Newcastle, that will also seat up to 25 diners. Providing training and employment opportunities, it has received a grant of almost £28,000. Jamie Sadler, Managing Director of Food Nation said: “We would like to say a massive thank you to the Virgin Money Foundation for supporting our plans to open a healthy and sustainable takeaway restaurant in Newcastle. Food Nation wants to create a shining example of how changes to a standard takeaway restaurant can make a positive impact towards tackling important socio-cultural, public health and environmental issues.”

Lynemouth Community Trust’s Weave project is a social enterprise providing employment in specialist garment manufacturing in Lynemouth, Northumberland and has received a grant of almost £50,000. Andrew Gooding, Manager Lynemouth Community Trust said: “We want Weave to be a hotbed of collaboration between designers and machinists who want to make fantastic things happen in the region. We believe the support received from Virgin Money Foundation will be crucial to us in achieving our ambitions and embracing a really exciting future.”

Nacro is a housing service that provides homes for vulnerable women and children in Middlesbrough, and has received a grant of over £40,000. Joanne Drew. Director of Housing said: “We are delighted that the Virgin Money Foundation has awarded us this grant. This funding will enable us to provide homes for some 30 women and their families who would otherwise be homeless, at a time when vulnerable people face many challenges in meeting their housing needs.”

Details of all 25 grant recipients are provided in Notes to Editors.

The 25 new grants follow the announcement that the Foundation will also support the first Onside Youth Zone in Sunderland with financial backing of £850,000. The Youth Zone will provide a state-of-the-art facility for young people to raise aspirations, enhance prospects and improve the health and wellbeing of young people in the city.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said: “I am delighted to see that the Virgin Money Foundation has made its first grants to charities in the Northern Powerhouse, using funding that we were able to provide from fines levied on banks. These funds will benefit charities working on youth employment, social enterprise and other good causes in the North East. It is only right that we use fines from those who’ve demonstrated the worst values in our society to support those that demonstrate the very best of British values.’’

Edward Wakefield, Chairman of Virgin Money Foundation, said: “The Virgin Money Foundation has been set up to help people deliver real, sustainable change in the communities that need it most. We received high-quality applications from a wide range of good causes throughout the whole North East region and were particularly encouraged to see how many organisations are committed to the development of long-term, sustainable programmes. We had some hard choices to make in deciding which proposals to support, but are delighted to be awarding this first round of grants to 25 organisations. We look forward to working with the beneficiaries to help them deliver the best possible results from this investment.”

Information on future funding and the timing of the next round of grant applications will be announced during the early part of 2016.


Media contact:

Tel: 0191 279 4676


List of all grants:

  Name Location Description
1. Edberts House Gateshead To develop a community bakery in a new project on a deprived estate in Gateshead.
2. Food Nation Newcastle To set up a new 'healthy takeaway' as a social enterprise that will provide training and employment opportunities in Newcastle, as well as nutritional education.
3. Lynemouth Community Trust Northumberland To employ a new business manager to help grow a social enterprise which provides employment opportunities in a specialist garment manufacturing business in Lynemouth, Northumberland.
4. Tyne Gateway Trust North Tyneside To fund the development of a social enterprise incubator unit to create jobs for vulnerable parents and young people in South East Northumberland.
5. West End Women and Girls Centre Newcastle To develop a local bakery that will generate additional income for the charity and provide employment opportunities for women in the West End of Newcastle.
6. Labelled CIC Darlington To set up a social enterprise providing training and work experience for people with learning difficulties in a deprived community in the Middlesbrough area.
7. Vision Sense South Tyneside To develop and launch an income-generating service that will offer employment opportunities and transform the lives of young disabled people who are victims of hate crime and violence.
8. YMCA Newcastle - Walker Park Newcastle To set up a new community hub in an unused building as part of the refurbishment of Walker Park, Newcastle. The hub will provide training and employment opportunities for young people in the area.
9. Changing Lives Newcastle To fund the Homelife Tenancy Support Team to help homeless people, or people at risk of homelessness, to find and sustain an affordable home.
10. Handcrafted Projects Durham To recruit someone to enable the charity to renovate derelict properties to provide accommodation for homeless people.
11. Moving On Durham Durham To develop the charity’s social lettings agency “Moving On Housing” that will provide accommodation for homeless young people across County Durham.
12. Nacro Middlesbrough To establish a housing service that provides homes for vulnerable women and women with children who are homeless or in housing need in Middlesbrough.
13. Oasis Aquila Housing Gateshead To fund a Social Lettings Agency that will provide long-term, affordable housing, to help people build stable and sustainable futures.
14. Open Door North East Hartlepool To replicate a successful Middlesbrough refugee housing project in neighbouring Stockton and Hartlepool.
15. The Ethical Lettings Agency Redcar and Cleveland To employ someone to provide support and advice to homeless people or people at risk of homelessness in Redcar.
16. Auckland Youth and Community Centre Durham To provide young people living in a disadvantaged community in County Durham with child care and youth work training, apprenticeships and assistance in finding work.
17. Blue Watch Youth Centre Sunderland To support an employment training programme for young people in a deprived part of Sunderland.
18. Building Futures East Newcastle To provide training and job opportunities in an environmental improvement programme in Walker.
19. Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum Redcar To provide match funding for an ESF grant helping 18-29 year olds gain work experience, confidence, then employment in this area of high unemployment and social deprivation.
20. Pennywell Youth Project Sunderland To deliver an employment programme for young people from the Pennywell estate in Sunderland who are not currently in employment, education or training.
21. South Tyneside Training and Enterprise Network Limited South Tyneside To support young adults aged 16-25 who have multiple barriers into employment.
22. The Box Youth Project Sunderland To motivate and support unemployed, hard to reach young people into employment by providing tailored programmes to develop employability skills and raise aspirations.
23. The Skill Mill Limited Newcastle To grow a social enterprise which employs young ex-offenders and other vulnerable young people to deliver environmental management and flood-risk mitigation services.
24. YMCA Newcastle Newcastle To deliver a 12 week employability programme with hard to reach young people across deprived areas of Newcastle.
25. Bensham Grove Community Association Gateshead To look at developing a Grade 2 listed community building in Bensham further to include a collective arts space including workshops and galleries.

Virgin Money Foundation

  • The Virgin Money Foundation was formally launched in August 2015 as a new, independent charitable foundation that will focus initially on community projects in the North-East of England, and over time will grow to operate nationally.
  • It will promote the sustainable regeneration of economically and socially deprived communities in the UK. This will include providing social investment in community housing and building projects, promoting opportunities for youth work and training, as well as investing in projects designed to relieve unemployment.
  • The entire running costs of the Virgin Money Foundation are met by Virgin Money; as such, 100% of donations – including £8m over 4 years contributed by Virgin Money and by the Cabinet Office – will go towards helping to Foundation to achieve its charitable objectives.
  • Visit: for further details.

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