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Darlington Building Society announces partnership with leading autism charity


Apr 14, 2022 #Autism, #Middlesbrough

Darlington Building Society has announced an “exciting” partnership with a pioneering charity to coincide with World Autism Acceptance Month.

The Society has donated £15,000 to the North East Autism Society (NEAS) to help build an accessible outdoor play area at a recently opened school for autistic children on Teesside.

The funding, which comes from the building society’s annual commitment to donate five per cent of its profits to good causes, will be invested at The Mackenzie Thorpe Centre, at South Bank, Middlesbrough.

All nine DBS branches are supporting five local charities under the ‘Local 5’ initiative and NEAS is one of the good causes chosen by the head office at Tubwell Row, in Darlington.

As well as the financial donation, the building society is also exploring other ways to support NEAS, including volunteering, financial education, and training so that staff become more aware of autism and neurodiversity.

The partnership with NEAS is being championed by Alison Etherington, a DBS Financial Support Officer, who has a personal connection to autism.

Alison, a member of the building society’s Community Impact Group, said: “The pandemic has made the services provided by NEAS more important than ever, so we’re proud to be supporting an amazing charity that makes a huge difference to so many lives.

“The new play area at the MTC will be for children who may not be able to access public play equipment owing to various barriers.

“We’re also exploring ways to use the skills we have amongst our staff to provide additional support through volunteering with things like decorating, gardening, or painting fences. On top of that, there’s potential to use our expertise to help in areas such as budgeting and financial education.”

Niki Barker, the Society’s Director of People and Culture, added: “We’ve spent time getting to know NEAS better and it was important for us to support this wonderful charity with a sustainable project that will have long-term benefits for some of the region’s most vulnerable families.”

Kevin Meikle, Fundraising Manager for NEAS, said: “Darlington Building Society is a financial institution that is well known for being at the heart of the community, so we’re thrilled to be entering into such an exciting partnership.

“The new play area will bring so much joy to children who attend The Mackenzie Thorpe Centre, not just now but in the future, and we look forward to developing a lasting relationship with DBS.”

The Mackenzie Thorpe Centre – named after the world-famous Middlesbrough-born artist, who is the charity’s patron – opened in September 2020 as part of a major expansion of the services provided by NEAS. That growth continued earlier this year when the charity opened a second school on Teesside by renovating Kiora Hall, an historic building at Norton, in partnership with Stockton Borough Council.

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