Gentoo's Aspire programme aims to back Sunderland communities with £7,600 grants

Bosses at Gentoo say its Aspire grant programme is aiming to benefit local volunteers and community groups in Sunderland.

The housing association is offering grants of up to £500 to projects which support the environment, activities for young people, health and wellbeing and projects to tackle unemployment.

In the first six months of 2022, the Aspire grant programme has supported 17 voluntary and community groups with grants totalling more than £7,600. Groups to recently benefit include Silksworth Cricket Club, Sunderland Training and Education Farm, Veterans in Crisis and Building Blocks Day Centre.

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These groups decided to apply for the grants to improve community facilities and host free fun days to encourage more local people to get involved with clubs and organisations.

Lewis Walmsley, Tenant Voice partner with Gentoo, left, with Andrew Barrass, first team captain at Silksworth Cricket Club.

The Aspire Grants Programme has benefited many local groups and organisations since it was launched in 2003. These include art, music and drama clubs, toddler play groups, football clubs, older people’s clubs and resident and community associations.

The funding allowed Silksworth Cricket Club to repair a broken fence and Building Blocks Day Centre in Washington to restore a community space for children by funding new flooring. Sunderland Training and Education Farm were able to host a fun day for local families.

Andrew Barrass, first team captain, Silksworth Cricket Club said: “We are incredibly grateful to Gentoo for the grant funding through their Aspire grant programme. Silksworth Cricket Club is at the heart of Silksworth, it brings children and adults together through their love of sport and strengthens our community.

“The £500 funding has allowed us to fix a broken fence, creating a safe and secure place for our members to be social, active and healthy.”

Susie Thompson, Gentoo executive director of housing, said: “Aspire grants are available to local volunteers and community groups in Gentoo neighbourhoods.

"They offer an amazing opportunity for people to make a positive difference within their community, whether that be through sports clubs, social events or community groups.

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“The funding improves relationships within and between communities and involves residents and Gentoo tenants in the decision-making process.

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"The grants allow community spaces and organisations to enhance and maintain their facilities, in turn improving the experiences, lives and wellbeing of local people.”