April 24, 2020 @ 14:29 by Steven Hugill
A fund linked to a North East surface coal mine is helping support local responses to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Banks Mining Brenkley Lane Community Fund has paid out £3500 to three Newcastle organisations.
Officials have awarded a £1000 grant to Dinnington Parish Council to help fund its work with vulnerable and elderly local people.
A further two £1000 grants have been given to Hazlerigg and District War Memorial Community Centre to help them provide similar assistance to people living in the parishes of Brunswick and Hazlerigg.
Another £500 has been awarded to Families 1st 4 Additional Needs in support of the work of the North Newcastle Food Hub, which has issued more than 500 food parcels in the last four weeks.
More donations are expected to follow soon in Northumberland.
The Banks fund normally prioritises support for groups and good causes in its immediate surrounding area, which covers the Castle Ward of Newcastle and the Ponteland East and Stannington Ward of Northumberland.
However, in response to the impact of coronavirus, Brenkley Lane’s owners agreed with the local community fund panel to temporarily relax the grants eligibility criteria.
Councillor Anita Lower, who chairs the Brenkley Lane funding committee, said: “It’s great that the Banks Brenkley Lane Fund is stepping up to support community groups providing vital food deliveries to the most vulnerable – the money will really help our amazing teams of volunteers.”
Bosses behind Banks’ Brenkley Lane site say it has helped generate around £240,000 for local good causes over the last decade.
Jeannie Raine, community relations manager at the Banks Group, added: “The Brenkley Lane fund was designed to bring direct, long-term benefits to local communities, and in this unprecedented time of need, we felt it only right to step up and do as much as we can to offer support where it’s most needed.
“These local groups are all doing invaluable work in supporting the most vulnerable members of their communities and we’re proud to be able to contribute towards what they are achieving, as well as grateful to the local funding panel members for their speedy and thoughtful response to the current situation.”