An awards scheme which supports charities is being extended to give backing to even more worthy causes.
Horden Youth & Community Centre was among the winners of the Weston Charity Awards last year.
Now the search is on to find this year’s champions in areas including Hartlepool and East Durham.
The Horden venue’s prize was £15,000 as well as business mentoring through an organisation called Pilotlight.
There was also a £5,000 prize that they received when they were first selected.
But the Weston Charity organisers are now expanding the scheme to support a larger pool of charities in the region.
The awards are run by the Garfield Weston Foundation whose director Philippa Charle, said: “It’s about giving charities the tools they need to move forward.
“Charities are doing remarkable work in their communities and the demand for their support is growing, which is why our trustees have expanded the awards.”
Steve Clark, manager at the Horden Youth & Community Centre, said the awards came at the perfect time.
“This has been a game-changing experience for us. I was always the financial worrier – thinking ‘how are we going to pay this core cost? How will we afford that?’
“However, the business team really supported us in putting a new financial infrastructure and long-term strategy in place.
“We are now able to expand our services and our income is rising as a result. We are fighting fit and that’s a great feeling.”
Pilotlight’s chief executive Gillian Murray said: “You’d be surprised to see how many small organisations are delivering services they have no funding for, but people depend on them, so they can’t walk away.”
The Weston Charity Awards were created to celebrate causes working in the youth, welfare and community fields.
Eighteen winners will be selected this year to work with Pilotlight.
The deadline for applications is January 15.
Visit www.westoncharityawards.org to find out more.