BIG cash bonuses are making a BIG difference to Sunderland charities.
Two organisations have benefited from hundreds-of-thousands of pounds in grants from the Big Lottery’s Reaching Communities Fund.
City centre based mental health charity Sunderland Mind has been given £209,674.
The money is to be spent on developing a new mentoring and befriending scheme, called Re-engaged.
Project manager Dorothy Gardiner said the money is vital to the project’s success.
“This is the first time we have received money from the Reaching Communities Fund and we are ecstatic,” she said.
“It’s really hard managing at the minute because of all the cuts being made to funding, and there are more people using the service.
“The money will help to develop a service which we have been wanting to put into place for a long time.”
The project aims to buddy-up people with volunteers and mentors to help them re-engage with society.
“Whether it’s preparing for interviews, or engaging with education or leisure, or even just getting out of the house, the mentor can help with that,” said Dorothy.
“People with mental health issues can need that support, and sometimes it can be easier for them to engage with someone who isn’t a counsellor.
“That’s why we wanted to start it. We are hoping it will be a successful service and now we have the money to put it into place.”
Sanstreet Youth and Community centre also received £97,217 to support the work it does with young people.
“We are absolutely delighted,” said project coordinator Sue Mileson.
“The money is being given over three years so it will help to keep providing the service we give and developing it.
“We want to build on what we are already doing, and if we hadn’t received the money that would have been a lot more difficult to do.”
The community centre offer programmes to increase confidence and help people gain qualifications through activities such as sports, as well as offering help and advice with things such as benefits.
“Without the money it would be difficult to keep operating the way we do,” said Sue. “We have to cover lots of different costs and that’s why the money is so important. It will go a long way, but we still need more.”