Four charities that work across the Tees Valley and North Yorkshire have received a New Year boost after being chosen by the region’s biggest building society to share a £14,000 donation.

Newcastle Building Society has awarded grants of £4,000 to Little Sprouts Health & Wellbeing in Yarm, which is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of its community, and to Harbour Support Services in Hartlepool, which works with families and individuals who are affected by abuse from a partner, former partner or other family member.

The Darlington-based Tees Valley Young Men’s Christian Association and the Stokesley & District Community Care Association have also both been awarded grants of £3,000 to help them meet the cost of continuing to provide their various services in the current challenging climate.

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.

These latest donations are part of an overall £1.5m of community commitment that is being delivered by the Society to help the region manage and recover from the impact of Covid-19.

The Stokesley & District Community Care Association offers a wide range of services to older people living in the villages within a 15 mile radius of the North Yorkshire town, with the help of around 200 local volunteers, and also manages a volunteer-led community car scheme in neighbouring Richmondshire.

In normal times, the activities it provides at its Town Close headquarters include lunch clubs, tea dances, craft activities, a carer support group and a day care service for dementia patients, while it also provides a befriending service, a carer respite scheme and regular shopping runs and trips out on its two minibuses.

Over recent months, the charity has adapted its community car scheme and used its minibuses to carry out shopping trips and collect prescriptions, as well as to take service users to and from medical appointments in a covid-safe environment.

It has also ramped up its telephone-based services to provide remote help, advice and company to anyone needing its support, and is now starting to take growing numbers of older local residents for coronavirus vaccinations.

Phil Henderson, chief officer at Stokesley & District Community Care Association, says: “We’ve had to make a lot of changes in the last year and have needed to keep responding to different local needs as they’ve developed, but our staff and volunteers have done a fantastic job right the way through.

“Many of our well-used face-to-face services have unavoidably had to be put on hold, but increasing what we do over the telephone has meant we’ve been able to keep in touch with everyone, offer help where it’s needed and make sure that no-one’s been left feeling isolated.

“Having this funding from Newcastle Building Society behind us helps us plan out in more detail what we can provide and keep the costs associated with our transport services down for both services users and the volunteer drivers, who more often than not cover their own costs themselves.

“We can see lots of challenges ahead once we’ve all got past the pandemic, but lots of opportunities to expand what we do as well and this grant will also allow us to further develop our services through this year and beyond.

“We’ve seen more people signing up to help us and want to keep providing the extra services we’ve developed over the last year, so that we keep reaching as many local people as we can.”

Carrieanne Wilford, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s Yarm branch, adds: “These charities have all had to deal with hugely demanding situations that they could barely have imagined 12 months ago, and the lengths to which they’ve all gone to help local people in need have been hugely impressive.

“Their commitment to improving the well-being of their communities mirrors our own, and we’re honoured to be able to support their invaluable work.”

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.