Newcastle based international children’s charity COCO (Comrades of Children Overseas) has formed a new partnership with the London campus of one of the North East’s leading universities to help improve the quality of education for children living in poor and marginalised communities.

University of Sunderland in London has signed a sponsorship agreement with Team COCO, the charity’s new virtual, England Athletics affiliated running club.  The partnership has been launched to raise funds that will benefit COCO’s overseas programmes, which work with communities in remote regions of the developing world on projects that provide children with access to the education that is essential for a good start in life.

The University of Sunderland in London decided to come on board as Team COCO’s sponsor in a two-year agreement, after being inspired by the vital work COCO is engaged with overseas.  Ruth Wilson, head of services for students and marketing, said: “The University of Sunderland in London is delighted to be partnering Team COCO.  The work of COCO gives the University the chance to remind ourselves of the positive role education can play in changing lives.  At the University of Sunderland in London we constantly strive for opportunities to remind our student body of what they can use their studies for, and the good they can pay back. The COCO motto of Listen, Learn, Sustain is a message we hope all our students can adopt and we now look forward to also encouraging them to get more active for a great cause.”

Team COCO is a virtual running club, meaning that members have the flexibility to run and fundraise wherever and whenever they like, but always have an online community of runners with whom to share their experiences.  Many of Team COCO’s members turned out in force at Durham parkrun to celebrate the new sponsorship agreement, showcase the club’s new brand and help recruit new members.

Lucy Kendall, CEO of COCO, said: “We are thrilled to have the University of Sunderland in London on board as sponsor for Team COCO.  To have a leading university showing support for our education work in East Africa is a real boost.  With the university’s backing, we can raise more awareness of the important work we’re undertaking among students and the wider public.

“We are very excited about the potential of Team COCO, our virtual, England Athletics affiliated running club.  Given that COCO was founded by athletic legend Steve Cram, it’s no surprise that we have such a strong connection to running and we are keen to engage more active supporters to sign up and be a part of this fantastic community.  Durham parkrun was a great opportunity for existing members to get together and meet new supporters.  We have exciting plans for Team COCO and look forward to working with the University of Sunderland in London to use running here in the UK to do a huge amount of good for young people in East Africa.”

To find out more about the work of COCO visit www.coco.org.uk, find the charity on Facebook or follow @COCO_Charity on Twitter.

For further information about the University of Sunderland in London visit: www.london.sunderland.ac.uk.