The local housing provider has made a £50,000 grant to the organisation to support its valuable work in Chester-le-Street and the surrounding area.

Set up in 2001, the Foundation uses the power of football and the Sunderland brand and badge to deliver a range of employability, social inclusion and health programmes to over 30,000 children and adults a year.

Five of the schemes – education programme Back on Track, Family Learning through Football, the adult employability initiative Back in the Game, a health programme Positive Pulse and the social inclusion programme Kicks – have been operating from the Cestria Centre of Light, which is also supported by Cestria.

This base on the Gibside estate was opened in 2009 in a bid to reduce anti-social behaviour and crime in the area and now acts as a hub for local young people.

Cestria’s managing director, Martin Warhurst, said: “The impact of the Foundation’s work has been significant in our communities, so we’re really proud to continue to work alongside it.”

Community engagement officer, Paul Hadden, added: “The programmes offered by the Foundation are making a real difference to people’s lives and aspirations.

“The highly successful Kicks programme, which offers football and sports sessions for youngsters, helps raise their self-esteem and motivation and has contributed to a phenomenal drop in anti-social behaviour, completely changing the make-up of the local area.

“The education and employability schemes give residents and our tenants a real chance of improving their job chances, while the Family Learning through Football is helping support the development of strong communities.”

Foundation of Light Director of Outreach, Sarah Howell, commented: “Our partnership with Cestria is renowned nationally as a model of good practice, demonstrating how two like-minded organisations can have a huge impact on local communities.

“We’re delighted to extend our partnership that will make a real difference to local lives.”

The foundation’s work is also supported through funding from the Premier League and the youth employment initiative, Durham Works, which is led by Durham County Council.