A MILLION pounds is being handed over to a group which reaches out to Sunderland’s melting pot of cultures.
Inspired by the work of Sunderland Black and Minority Ethnic Network (SBMEN), the National Lottery has awarded the project the money to boost the opportunities it offers.
The cash will go towards tackling fuel poverty as well as training community volunteers to support residents to make their homes more energy efficient, recycle and compost and set up green social enterprises.
The project will also introduce a “garden swap” scheme, where people without a garden will borrow a corner of a neighbour’s where they can grow their own food, in return for helping with the gardening.
To overcome language barriers a green e-newsletter for black and ethnic minority communities will be launched and an annual community event will be established where groups can come together to celebrate their achievements and share the lessons they have learnt.
Michal Chantkowski, chairman of SBMEN, said: “The programme will make a two-fold difference, by improving people’s ability to be more environmentally friendly and making Sunderland a better place to live.
“It is also about enabling people to save money on their living expenses at a very difficult time.
“There are high levels of fuel poverty in the area, but becoming more environmentally sustainable should mean people end up with more money in their pockets.”
He added: “Black and minority ethnic communities are always keen to work for a better Sunderland and we are delighted we’ve been able to help get this funding into the city.
“We also want to make sure this programme works for everyone in the target area.
“We want to show Sunderland BME Network is needed to help strengthen the relationships between all the city’s different communities.”
Twelve projects across England have received up to £1million each from the Big Lottery Fund’s Communities Living Sustainably initiative, which is focused on inspiring people to reap financial, environmental and health gains by changing their lifestyles.