Candy Squire-Watt and Andrew White

SkillsBridge matches volunteers from both private and public sector companies with charities and social enterprises in need of expert guidance and advice.

Thanks to the support of two local businesses, Incommunities and TL Dallas, the North East-based charity, which has been held up as a model of best practice by the Government, has opened its first Yorkshire office, at Bradford.

Headed by Project Officer Candy Squire-Watt, its aim will be to forge links between businesses and charities across the county.

“There are some great charities doing great work,” said Candy, who brings more than 25 years’ experience of the voluntary and not for profit sectors to the role.

“However, many also need practical help, with matters such as human resources issues, book keeping, creating business plans and plotting their growth strategies – and that’s where private and public sector businesses come in.

“By giving up a few hours of their time and sharing some of their knowledge and expertise, they can make a very real difference, not just to charities but to the wider communities in which they live and work.”

In the past year alone, SkillsBridge Newcastle has put more than 100 charities in touch with 60 business experts, who have provided them with around 2000 hours of free support.

“It’s really a common sense solution to a problem,” said SkillsBridge Chief Executive Andrew White, “and it’s very much a two way street.

“Corporate responsibility is no longer a purely moral choice, it is supported by legislation through the Social Value Act.

By signing up to SkillsBridge, businesses can meet their moral obligations and demonstrate their social value. SkillsBridge gives businesses the chance to invest in their community and invest in the development of some of their brightest and most talented staff.”

Companies who wish to get involved, either by offering financial support or by volunteering to share their skills, can do so by calling Candy on 01274 254705, emailing candy@skills-bridge.org, or visiting www.skills-bridge.org .