Three Teesside hospices are set to receive a major funding boost from the North East’s biggest building society.

Newcastle Building Society is making donations of £5,000 to the Teesside Hospice Care Foundation in Middlesbrough and Alice House Hospice in Hartlepool to help them continue their essential work at a time of increasing financial uncertainty, while a further £3,000 grant is going to the Butterwick Hospice in Stockton-on-Tees.

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.

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

Teesside Hospice cares for people and families across Teesside who’ve been affected by a terminal illness, helping them make the most of every day by ensuring they receive the best possible care and can create long-lasting shared memories.

Based in Middlesbrough, the Hospice is using its grant of £5,000 to enhance the range of technologies it has available to keep in touch with patients while they aren’t able to see them in person, and to upgrade its website to make it more interactive.

Patricia Boynton, grants & trusts fundraiser at Teesside Hospice, says: “In normal times, we provide a very hands-on, face-to-face service that had to go online pretty much overnight, which obviously had a huge impact on our service provision.

“Being able to keep in close touch via phone calls, Zoom meetings and our website is making a huge difference to the support we can provide, and is maintaining the essential lifeline on which many of them depend.

“We’re also finding new ways to collaborate with other the community health care professionals such as district nurses and GPs through an electronic patient notes system, and being able to access this system at home and in various places around the hospice via our new laptops is crucial to our work.

“For some people, moving our services online has provided a more convenient option for them, we’re learning all the time about what works well, which will help us better shape the services we offer in the future.

“Fundraising is a challenge for all charities at the moment, and receiving this generous funding from Newcastle Building Society means can continue to deliver the best possible care to our local community.”

Alice House Hospice offers a wide range of services for local people and their families, including inpatient and day care provision, counselling and support services, complementary therapies and a 24-hour helpline that can be access by both members of the public and care professionals.

With the Hospice expecting to see a fundraising shortfall of around one million pounds this year, the Society’s £5,000 grant will be used to help it meet its general running costs.

Greg Hildreth at Alice House Hospice says: “Newcastle Building Society has been a long-term supporter of the hospice and we’re hugely grateful to its customers and staff for their continuing assistance.

“Even though our programme of fundraising events has been almost wiped out by the pandemic, we’ve still had tremendous support from the local community, with people and businesses taking on individual challenges to raise money for us.

“We’ve had to modify the ways in which we work across every area of our operations, which had included our fundraising work, but we’ve got lots of exciting ideas for how we’re going to take this vital work forward in the future, so that we can raise the money we need to support the hundreds of local families that we work with every year.”

Newcastle Building Society customer director Stuart Miller adds: “The essential work that hospices undertake is challenging at the best of times, but the financial and logistical implications of the pandemic have made it so much more demanding this year.

“The support we’re providing to these three invaluable organisations will directly benefit families facing the most difficult of situations and further extends our community contribution in the Tees Valley.”

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has also contributed over £2.1m in grants and partnerships with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Princes 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 Recovery and Response 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.