The response of a Northumberland charity to growing community demand for its help during the coronavirus crisis has won the financial backing of regional employer The Banks Group.

Hadston House Youth and Community Project in Hadston has been awarded £1,000 grant from the Banks Community Fund to assist with the deliveries of hot meals that it has been carrying out to local elderly and vulnerable people.

Its regular Meals On Wheels service supports older people living across the area between Warkworth and Ulgham, and provides a daily hot lunchtime meal and dessert for just four pounds.

It has seen demand for meals almost double since the coronavirus outbreak began, but having been awarded the grant to help meet its rising costs, the group is looking to further increase the number of people taking advantage of its service.

Hadston House usually offers a wide variety of classes, social activities and events for local people of all ages, including a community café, youth club, an IT suite and community access library.

John Shepherd, project assistant at Hadston House, says: “Before the pandemic, we’d usually deliver around 30 meals every day, but with many residents now shielding in their homes and unable to get out, this figure is up to 50 and we’re expecting to see it rise still further.

“The Banks Community Fund grant that we’ve received is helping us meet the extra costs of growing our service and enabling us to make it available to more older and vulnerable people across Northumberland at the time that they need it most.

“We’ve still got capacity to increase the number of meals that we’re delivering around the area and are keen for anyone else who thinks that we might be able to help them to get in touch.”

Hadston House is the latest group to be provided with emergency financial support from the Banks Group which has also been applying community funding from its wind farms and surface mines across the north of England and Scotland to assist with similar emergency projects.

Since the beginning of April, grants worth a total of over £55,000 have been approved and awarded by the family-owned firm to 36 community projects which are tackling the problems being caused in their respective areas by the pandemic, with more expected to follow.

Jeannie Raine, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “Our funds are 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 to support our local communities where it’s most needed.

“The Hadston House team is doing fantastic work to support vulnerable local residents, and we’re proud to be able to help those local community groups that are working to tackle and overcome extremely challenging circumstances in the areas around our developments.”