GRATEFUL charities on Wearside and in County Durham have won a share of a £4.3million cash pot.
Nine organisations have been granted funds through the Government’s Transition Fund, designed to help charities most vulnerable to public spending cuts.
Sunderland’s Education Business Connections (EBC), which works with schools, employers and the community, has been granted £56,800.
Its chief executive, Hendon councillor Barbara McClennan, said: “Like many charities, large and small, in the third sector, we have been badly hit by the recession.
“This will be a lifeline for EBC as it will allow us to move forward and review all our products and services to ensure that they meet the needs of all our customers, including schools and community projects.”
The Transition Fund aims to prepare groups for new opportunities which may be created through support for David Cameron’s Big Society ideal.
Among those to benefit was East Durham Community Transport, based in Peterlee, which got £135,000.
It operates eight minibuses for hire by groups and projects, organises day trips under the popular East Durham Travel Club banner, helps people returning to work after claiming benefits through its jobCarz scheme, and provides driver training.
Manager Liam Weatherill said: “We have had to change our model of operation, to ensure that our organisation could continue to provide both the quality and quantity of transport services for the benefit of the people of East Durham.
“The receipt of this funding will afford us the opportunity to provide a range of services, that will enable people in East Durham to access activities, employment and social inclusion.
“Like so many charities in the area, we have found it difficult to find the funding to maintain staff levels, and have, unfortunately, had to make a number of valued and experienced driving staff redundant.”
The money will primarily be used to support staff costs during the change period, formalising driver training courses, and publicising and administering expansion of its existing schemes.
Fellow Peterlee-based charity East Durham Trust has received a grant of £26,058.
The Trust, was established to combat the problems that were created after the closure of the pits by working with the voluntary community sector on various projects and by promoting community groups.
Chief executive Malcolm Fallow said: “We will use the Transition Fund money to try to gear ourselves up for a future that does not rely as much on public sector and government support..”
Groups in the money
Education Business Connections, Sunderland – £56,800.
Fiscus North, Sunderland – £90,004.
Sit ‘n’ ‘B’ Fit Community Interest Company, Sunderland – £71,059.
Sustainable Enterprise Strategies Community Interest Company, Sunderland – £97,500.
Team Wearside, Sunderland – £180,000.
Acumen Community Enterprise Development Trust, Peterlee – £410,703.
East Durham Citizens Advice Bureau, Peterlee – £88,669.
East Durham Trust, Peterlee – £26,058.
East Durham Community Transport – £135,000