An award-winning Tees Valley charity is developing and expanding its services with the help of a four-figure grant from the region’s biggest building society.

Little Sprouts Health & Wellbeing works to improve the health and wellbeing of its community by delivering a wide range of cooking and food education projects across Teesside, and is headquartered at its Yarm Youth & Community Hall food distribution hub.

The organisation, which also operates from the Havelock Street Community Hub in Thornaby and the Hartington Road Community Café & Kitchen in Stockton, delivered around 9,000 food parcels since the beginning of the pandemic and works with up to 300 vulnerable local people every week.

It has recently opened an eco-shop at the Norton Grange Community Centre which aims to help vulnerable families access the food support and other services they need more easily, as well as to reduce food wastage.

Newcastle Building Society has awarded Little Sprouts a grant of £4,000, which it is using to meet the costs of providing its different services.

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 commitment made by the Society in 2020 to help the region manage and recover from the impact of Covid-19.

Little Sprouts is supported by a growing team of around local 30 volunteers, including a number who got involved for the first time while on furlough during the pandemic and who are still working with the team.

It runs a second community shop at the Havelock Street Hub in Thornaby and also provides advocacy and support services to help tackle isolation and well-being issues as well as food insecurity.

The charity has a long-standing relationship with Newcastle Building Society’s Yarm Library branch, with members of the team regularly volunteering their time in support of its different activities.

Neta Kaur-Brown, who set up Little Sprouts with fellow director Debbie Fixter, says: “We have a passion for health and well-being, and aim to inspire people to make better food choices that have a direct positive effect on their health, diet and lifestyles in general.

“We’ve always been a grassroots organisation that focuses on individuals’ all-round well-being and have regularly adapted our services to meet changing community needs, but this last year has obviously seen us having to do this more than ever before.

“As well as running our own projects, we also try to signpost our service users towards other resources that might help address their individual needs, so that no-one’s missing out on the help they need because they’re not aware of where they can find it.

“We’ve had outstanding support over the last year from local people and benefactors, through both financial and in-kind donations, and it’s made a huge difference to what we’ve been able to achieve.

“The Newcastle Building Society grant gives us the flexibility to direct resources where they’re most needed at any given time and we’re really grateful for their continuing backing.”

Carrieanne Wilford, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s Yarm branch, adds: “Little Sprouts is a terrific organisation that’s doing tremendous work right across our community in the most challenging of circumstances and we’re proud to be a long-term supporter of this inspiring organisation.”

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has also contributed over £2.1m in grants and partnerships to a wide variety of charities and projects across the region, including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Prince’s 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 Response and Recovery 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.