How businesses can help Sunderland’s most vulnerable children

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SUNDERLAND business leaders have been challenged to help and protect the city’s most vulnerable and needy children.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has formed a Sunderland Business Board, which aims to raise £80,000 for child protection on Wearside.

To spread the message and encourage businesses to sign up, the board is hosting a launch event at the National Glass Centre on Thursday, October 24.

Allison Thompson, chairman of the business board, said she hoped as many businesses as possible would attend the event and adopt the NSPCC as a charity.

She said: “The aim of the board is to raise awareness of protection issues and of the work of the NSPCC – and to raise funds specifically to help Sunderland children.

“Almost one in 10 children in the UK is neglected, and Sunderland is no different.

“Of course, neglect can take many forms, but it can prove deadly and is a direct cause in one in six deaths and severe injuries investigated in serious case reviews.”

Janet Richardson, NSPCC corporate fundraising manager for the North East and Cumbria, added: “Neglect, not violence, is the biggest issue that NSPCC has to contend with.

“Parents who neglect are often struggling with issues such as poverty, past abuse, domestic violence, mental ill-health, disability and substance misuse and neglect can go unnoticed.

“The victims need our help and protection, and that’s why NSPCC needs the support of firms across Wearside.”

The NSPCC has a regional centre in Newcastle which supports children who have been sexually abused from across the region, but the money raised by the Sunderland board will be spent on NSPCC projects in the city.

Donations will help the innovative Childline Schools Service to be rolled out into every primary school in the city, teaching children about keeping themselves safe and who to talk to if they are worried.

Donations will also fund a joint project working with Sunderland City Council on trialing a new way of identifying neglect and assessing the care of children in Sunderland, enabling social workers to act more swiftly to protect vulnerable children.

The business board’s members include Gary Hutchinson, SAFC commercial director; Lee Carlin, general manager of Grundfos in Sunderland; consultant Dr Michael Thirlbeck; Umesh Patel of Leema Pharmacy; and Michelle Meldrum, deputy director of gentoo living.

To attend the event, which starts at 6pm, people should contact Christina Foley on 07939 671090 or e-mail