Three Cumbrian charities have received an end of year boost after being chosen by the region’s biggest building society to share in a £13,000 windfall.

Newcastle Building Society has awarded a £5,000 grant to the Carlisle Food Bank to support its provision of emergency food aid for people in crisis who have been identified and referred by agencies working in the local community.

And it has also provided grants of £4,000 to Carlisle Key, which assists young people facing homelessness, and Eden Carers, which provides free support, information and advice to around 6,000 unpaid carers across the Eden Valley area.

The funding is being provided through the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which offers grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network.

These latest donations are part of an overall £1.5m of community commitment that is being delivered by the Society this year to help the region manage and recover from the impact of Covid-19.

Carlisle Key aims to give people aged from 16 to 25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness the knowledge, support and confidence they need to go on and live independently, and has assisted almost 300 young people this year alone.

It’s the second time this year that it has received financial support from Newcastle Building Society, with a previous £2,537 grant enabling it to offer 22 welcome packs for service users who don’t have the essential basic items they need, such as linen, kettles, toasters, crockery and cutlery, to start living independently.

Carlisle Key has also previously used the Society’s English Street branch’s community space as a neutral location for meetings with some of its service users.

During the lockdown, the charity has created a new education room in its drop-in centre to provide its service users with computer access, while a new counselling room is also being created and is scheduled to open early in the new year.

Carlisle Key is also distributing 130 Christmas gifts to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, or who are living in temporary housing or emergency accommodation.

The presents, which include gift sets, chocolates, socks, gloves and toiletries, are being handed out by volunteers around the city this week.

Clare Warwick, CEO at Carlisle Key, says: “We work with young people from all backgrounds who are facing a wide range of different, often complex issues and aim to give them the support, guidance and advice they need to make positive progress.

“The needs of our services users haven’t gone away, so we’ve stayed open right the way through the year to make sure they could access our assistance whenever they needed it.

“We’ve put lots of measures in place at the drop-in centre to make sure it can be used safely, and while people were understandably nervous about coming in at first, we’ve got busier and busier as the year has progressed.

“It’s amazing to have the flexibility to direct the funding we’ve had from Newcastle Building Society towards new priorities as they arise, and its continuing support is making a big difference to the work that we do in our community.”

Ryan Morgan, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s Carlisle branch, adds: “The pandemic has created additional pressures on the essential work that these charities undertake, and the lengths to which they’ve all gone to help those in need have been hugely impressive.

“Their commitment to improving the well-being of their communities matches our own and at the end of a very challenging year for all of us, we’re humbled to be able to support their invaluable work.”

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has also contributed over £2.1m in grants and partnerships to a wide variety of charities and projects across the region, including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Prince’s Trust. The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 151,000 people.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Society also made a £100,000 contribution to the Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund set up by the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.

The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.