North East Connected

Lights, camera and action for COCO and film festival partnership

Newcastle based international children’s charity COCO (Comrades of Children Overseas) has joined forces with the first ever Newcastle International Film Festival (NIFF) as the event’s international charity partner. The two North East organisations plan to capitalise on their global links to help ensure the inaugural festival is a success, while raising vital funds to support COCO’s work in East Africa to help improve the quality of education for children living in poor and marginalised communities.

The Newcastle International Film Festival will be a four-day celebration of film running from 29 March until 1 April.  It will be held in venues across Newcastle, which will showcase films from around the globe, including several world premieres, many classics, and new films from all genres of movies.

The partnership will introduce both organisations to new audiences, as well as raising funds that will benefit COCO’s overseas programmes.  COCO works with communities in remote regions of the developing world on projects to provide children with access to the education that is essential for a good start in life.

As international charity partner for NiFF, COCO is organising a ‘Film Fun Run’ which will see 600 pupils from the junior school at Newcastle High School for Girls in Sandyford and Fellside Primary School in Whickham, tackle a 2km run while dressed as their favourite film characters.  The run is being sponsored by the Newcastle office of global law firm Womble Bond Dickinson and the children who take part will be raising money for COCO.

Lucy Kendall, CEO of COCO, said: “We are thrilled to be the international charity partner for the first ever Newcastle International Film Festival.  Both COCO and NIFF have Newcastle roots with an international reach and outlook, so this is a very fitting partnership that will help all involved to reach new audiences.  We will work closely with the team at NIFF to raise awareness among festival visitors of the important work that we’re doing abroad.  We’re also really looking forward to working with Womble Bond Dickinson to organise the Film Fun Run for youngsters from the two schools.  As an established charity with an 18-year history, we are delighted to help promote this exciting new arts event in our region.”

President of the Newcastle International Film Festival Jacqui Miller-Charlton, said: “We are delighted to be working with COCO in our inaugural year.  As an international festival with a theme heavily supporting women, diversity and inclusion we feel it’s very important to offer support to children from areas of the world who are much less fortunate than those born in more advanced nations.  It is our hope that through the medium that is film we can raise awareness whilst having fun. Newcastle upon Tyne is an international city of sanctuary so partnering with COCO and their dedicated team was an easy choice to make.”

Asmah Baig, CSR manager and solicitor at Womble Bond Dickinson, adds: “Womble Bond Dickinson is excited to be the partner of COCO for this great project.  COCO’s charitable aims are aligned with our CSR programme, specifically in supporting education.”

COCO was co-founded by Steve Cram CBE and British Army Major Jim Panton in 2000.  Since then, the charity has raised over £4 million to fund small, sustainable, community led initiatives.  COCO and its partners have now undertaken 56 transformational projects in 16 countries, positively impacting the lives of over 200,000 people.

To find out more about the work of COCO visit, find the charity on Facebook or follow @COCO_Charity on Twitter.  For more information about the Newcastle International Film Festival and to buy tickets visit

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