The North East cancer support community has received an £18,000 boost from the region’s biggest building society.

Newcastle Building Society has made donations of £3,000 to six different cancer charities that work across the area to help them continue with their essential work at a time of increasing demand and financial uncertainty.

North Tyneside-based Live Well With Cancer, Cramlington’s Coping With Cancer North East and Gateshead-headquartered Fighting All Cancers Together (FACT) are among the beneficiaries of the funding, which has been provided through Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund at the Community Foundation.

Newcastle-headquartered Daft As A Brush Cancer Patient Care and blood cancer charity Bright Red have also both been awarded grants, while the work of the Teenage Cancer Trust across Tyne & Wear and Teesside has been picked out for support.

Coping With Cancer North East provides a wide range of social, emotional, mental and physical care and support to cancer patients right across the North East, and worked with more than 1,000 people last year alone.

It is using its share of the funding to enhance the counselling services it makes available, which has experienced a significant increase in demand this year.

Maggie Bailey, chief executive at Coping With Cancer North East, says: “The personal impact of a cancer diagnosis can’t be overestimated, and while the focus will understandably initially be on the physical treatment that’s needed, management of the emotional situation often also needs a great deal of work.

“Many of the people that we support have not been able to continue with their treatments for various reasons and there are thousands more who have not come through the diagnosis route in the numbers we normally expect, so we know is a tsunami of need building up in the region.

“We’ve already invested in new technologies and in training our counsellors to provide support over the phone and via video calls, and we’ve built the team up to six people to ensure we’re able to meet clients’ particular needs.

“We’re now starting to offer Covid-safe face-to-face counselling appointments once again, and the funding we’ve received from the Society means we’ll be better able to keep up with our clients’ needs in the coming months.”

Fighting All Cancers Together (FACT) fills a void in support for anyone affected by cancer away from medical environments across the North East, delivering a wide range of services to those suffering from cancer, cancer survivors, and their friends and families through its different activities and specialist talking therapies.

Backed by a large team of volunteers, FACT has support hubs and shops in a dozen other locations right across the North East.

During the lockdown period, its volunteers have been taking ‘kindness kits out to vulnerable people who’ve been shielding at home, with deliveries also used as a chance for a chat and to check if anyone needs an extra help.

Ruby Harper, who first got involved with FACT 11 years ago during her late husband Jess’s illness before becoming a volunteer with the organisation, says: “FACT is more than just a charity – it’s a second family, and as long as you need their help, they will be there for you.

“All our services are provide free and as quickly as possible to cancer patients, and speaking as both a service user and a volunteer, I know just how much of a difference FACT makes to the lives of hundreds of North East families every year.

“There’s always someone to talk to if you need them, and we often bring people in similar positions together, so those that are facing difficult situations can get practical advice and support from someone who’s been through the same thing.

“The additional support we’ve been able to provide to vulnerable people this year has been so well received, and the generous funding that the Society has now provided will help us meet the costs of delivering all the different services we offer.”

Newcastle Building Society recently announced that its financial commitment to helping the region manage and recover from the impact of Covid-19 will top £1.5m during 2020.

Customer director Stuart Miller says: “The impact of the pandemic on the finances of many charities has been sadly all too clear, but the demand for the services they provide has not gone away and this is especially true for the cancer charities that we’re supporting through our Community Fund.

“Many of the thousands of people that these invaluable organisations support have found themselves facing significant additional challenges this year and the services, advice and guidance that our charities have provided or developed in response to changing needs have made a huge difference to their lives.

“We’re directing this funding in ways which we know will have the greatest tangible impacts on people living across our heartland area and are very pleased to be extending the direct support we provide to our communities.”

The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which was set up to offer grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network.

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 £1m appeal set up by the Tyne and Wear Community Foundation for its Coronavirus Recovery and Response Fund.

The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.