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Business & Economy

Foundation announces new partnership with Helen McArdle

Sunderland AFC’s official charity, Foundation of Light, has today announced a major new partnership with Helen McArdle and the McArdle family who have donated £500,000 to support Foundation programmes, creating life opportunities for thousands of young people across the north east.

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Helen McArdle CBE, is best known for her work in the north east’s care industry, having founded Helen McArdle Care in the 1980s and later Kids 1st Nurseries. Helen has dedicated her time to creating a lasting legacy in the region, giving generous donations to worthy causes across the North East.

The new partnership further cements Helen’s focus and will see the Helen McArdle Health and Social Care Academy open in the Beacon of Light in 2022, with the aim of engaging some of the hardest to reach young people aged 16-19 into the sector. The Beacon’s Street Level will also be re-named the ‘Helen McArdle Youth Zone’.

The Helen McArdle Academy will help learners understand the skills and knowledge needed to work in the care sector and support them to develop practical skills in preparation for employment or progression into further education and training.

Learners will achieve nationally recognised qualifications, improve their numeracy and literacy skills and gain practical, hands-on work experience, as well as gain real life work experience through placements with industry partners, the Foundation’s disability sport, family learning and over 55’s tackling loneliness sessions.

Sir Bob Murray CBE, chairman of the Foundation of Light said “We are delighted to welcome Helen McArdle and the McArdle family as Foundation of Light partners, and we are hugely grateful for their support. Working together we are set to improve the lives of thousands of young people and close the employment gap for some of the most disadvantaged in our community.

“Over the last 20 years, we have supported over half a million people to live happier and healthier lives and our key focus has been to support young people to make the right choices. The Helen McArdle partnership will help us continue that mission and is set to support thousands over the next three years.”

Helen McArdle said: “I am pleased to be able to support the Foundation of Light, to create a space for young people to learn and grow their skills and provide a pathway into the health and social care industry.

“Like many industries, health and social care is facing a skills shortage but through the work of the Foundation of Light and the other charities we support, I hope that we are creating a lasting legacy to support the industry and provide quality care to thousands across the region.”


Delivery for the partnership is set to start in early 2022. To find out more visit