The community benefits fund linked to a North East surface coal mine is being used to help support local responses to the coronavirus crisis.
The Banks Mining Brenkley Lane Community Fund usually prioritises support for capital expenditure projects for groups and good causes in the immediate surrounding area, which covers the Castle Ward of Newcastle upon Tyne and the Ponteland East and Stannington Ward of Northumberland.
But in response to the impact of the pandemic, Brenkley Lane’s owners Banks Mining has agreed with the local community fund panel to temporarily relax the eligibility criteria within which grants can be made to support local community initiatives set up to assist local vulnerable people.
After working with local councillors to identify the most appropriate projects to support, grants worth a total of £3,500 have been quickly approved and paid over to three local organisations in Newcastle, with more expected to follow soon in Northumberland.
A £1,000 grant has been awarded to Dinnington Parish Council to help fund the support they are providing to vulnerable and elderly local people in their area, while two £1,000 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.
A further £500 has been awarded to local charity Families 1st 4 Additional Needs in support of the work of the North Newcastle Food Hub, which has issued over 500 food parcels in the last four weeks alone.
Newcastle City Councillor Anita Lower, who chairs the Brenkley Lane funding committee, says: “It’s great that the Banks Brenkley Lane Fund is stepping up to support community providing vital food deliveries to the most vulnerable – the money will really help our amazing teams of volunteers.”
Around £240,000 has been generated by Banks Mining’s Brenkley Lane site to fund local good causes over the last decade.
Jeannie Raine, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “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.”