Supporting our communities

James Walder, Executive Director of Finance & Business Support at North Star, reflects on the work North Star have done in the community in the past few months to help their residents feel safe, well and connected.

Many organisations pride themselves on the strong relationships they have with the communities that they work in. This has never been more important than in the last couple of months, as our residents and communities have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

At North Star, we have found that our connections with smaller charities, community groups and volunteers have been invaluable. They have been able to react quicker and more flexibly to the challenges and issues in our communities. We have handed over some of our community hubs to voluntary organisations to allow them to operate right at the heart of the community. This has allowed them to make a real difference.

We have also streamlined our community grant processes, and organisations have been able to receive funds within days of their request. We have set up a £20k programme of funding to organisations across the Tees Valley and County Durham to support coronavirus relief projects.

These projects have provided food packages, help for those isolating and kept vital services such as post offices running in rural communities. We have had some great feedback from our customers and the wider community about the help we have provided.

There has also been a range of great initiatives across the North East to support the communities that we work in:

  • Staff at Gentoo have provided over 1,000 hours of volunteer support for the Sunderland foodbank.
  • Believe Housing have awarded grants of up to £1,000 to over 30 groups who are delivering projects to support communities.
  • Bernicia Group has provided funds to a community group making hospital scrubs.
  • Karbon has given funding to a number of community groups including food banks and support groups for the vulnerable and isolated.