Fourteen charities helping hundreds of people improve their job prospects in the North East have received a funding boost after Newcastle Building Society announced nearly £55,000 of new grants for organisations tackling issues linked to employability.

Grants ranging from £2,500 to £5,000 have been awarded to charities including Streetwise Young People’s project in Newcastle, Pallion Action Group in Sunderland, and Bedlington-based Choysez. Other groups to benefit include Newcastle-based Smart Works, Haltwhistle Pool, The WM Morrison Enterprise in Darlington, Real Care (t/a Learning for Life) in County Durham, and Clean Slate Solutions working across the Tees Valley.

The donations have been made by the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which provides grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network.

Stuart Miller, customer director of Newcastle Building Society, said: “The coronavirus crisis has had a damaging impact on jobs and employment in sectors across the North East and we’re still uncertain how this will develop during the year. The Society is committed to providing ongoing support to our communities and by focusing grant funding on employability we’ll be addressing an immediate and very real issue for many, helping local charities get local people in the best possible shape to ensure they can benefit from an economic recovery.”

Other organisations to receive funding include Newcastle-based North East Homeless, People and Drugs based in Blyth, South Tyneside-based charities Bright Futures and TEN North East as well as YMCA North Tyneside.

Newcastle-based charity Smile for Life Children’s Charity received a grant of £4,000 to fund a member of staff to work on its allotment project, supporting young people with additional needs.

Paula Gascoigne, chief executive of the Smile for Life Children’s Charity, said: “These funds have been crucial to enabling us to launch our allotment programme which will benefit so many young people with disabilities and learning difficulties. Every week many youngsters from across the North East will enjoy a placement in this fabulous space; planting, nurturing and producing fruit, veg and herbs which can be used in our wonderful cafe.

“The work they do will arm them with new skills and experience – increasing confidence and motivation as they progress. The physical and emotional benefits of working outdoors with volunteers and colleagues will be invaluable and will help to reduce social isolation for so many. We are extremely grateful to Newcastle Building Society and look forward to sharing the wonderful produce with the Gosforth community.”

A further two grants worth a total of £5,500 were made to charities working to address food poverty – St Vincent De Paul Society based in Byker and Carlisle Foodbank

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.