July 29, 2020
The North East charity sector plays a crucial role in supporting local communities with a range of services that are needed now more than ever.
North East England Chamber of Commerce has a number of charities in its membership, who do fantastic work with people, young and old, tackling issues such as homelessness and anti-social behaviour, helping those with special educational needs and providing palliative care to the most vulnerable.
The Chamber has continued to work with these organisations during this challenging period to help ensure they get their messages out there and get support to those in need.
One such organisation is Streetwise Young People, which provides help for young people aged between 11-25 through access free information, advice, counselling services and community activities.
North East Homeless is also doing excellent work for people who are without permanent accommodation in our region as is County Durham-based DASH, which has been helping homeless people or those at risk of being made homeless for more than 40 years.
For those within our communities with disabilities, there is a range of excellent support on offer throughout the region.
Percy Hedley, for example, provides high quality, specialist and personalised care and education support to disabled people and their families.
In the southern part of the North East is another charity doing great work for young people with autism. MAIN has recently bought its own premises and is in the process of renovating the building so it’s a safe and an inspiring space for visitors. Completion is scheduled for early 2021.
The building will be called the Finlay Cooper Centre, named after the little boy who inspired the latest fundraising round.
Businesses are being encouraged to support the project with any donations possible.
When it is completed, there will be bespoke rooms for different ability groups and classrooms to offer special educational services – a lifeline for families whose children can’t attend mainstream school.
The Chamber has been a passionate advocate for mental health well-being since it was championed by its immediate Past President John McCabe.
Mental Health Matters which has its head office in Sunderland, is one particular great source of information and services for adults who need support.
Another great charity supporting mental wellbeing is Victims First in North Tyneside, which ensures victims of crime are given whatever they need to cope and recover from the difficult experience they have faced.
That’s to say nothing of the amazing North East charities working in the palliative care sector.
Both St Oswalds Hospice and St Benedicts are organisations who support people with life-limiting conditions with great sensitivity. Another inspiring Chamber member is Zoe’s Place, a caring hospice in Middlesbrough for babies and children up to age 5.
All of these charities need our support now more than ever.
At a time when demand for their services is growing all the time, North East charities are facing a huge reduction in income due to the coronavirus pandemic.
North East Counselling Services is doing tremendous work in the community but has had to redevelop its business model and pause expansion plans due to the pandemic.
Marjorie Hunter, CEO of the Gateshead-based organisation, had ambitions to expand into the corporate market before the pandemic. Despite this challenge, she is still forging ahead with plans, and has moved the business online, attracting new clients regionally and from around the UK.
She says: “When the pandemic hit, we had to pivot our business completely to ensure our clients were able to speak to their counsellors. This did present a bit of technical challenge,
moving everyone to online platforms, but it has enabled our clients to have the services they need, even throughout lockdown.”
Lesley Moody, (pictured), president of North East England Chamber of Commerce, says: “We have an amazing range of charities as Chamber members who deliver critical services to people in our region, many of whom have an illness or vulnerability.
“These organisations play an important role in all of our lives and ensure wherever possible, people are not alone when they need support.
“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for the services our charities provide has been higher than ever.
“At the same time, their income streams have been severely affected through being unable to conduct fundraising activities in the usual way.
“It is incumbent on us as a Chamber to continue to support our charities to get their messages out there at this difficult time and we encourage all businesses in the region to do what they can to support our charities so they can continue to support us.”