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We are Community Business of the Year!

We’re delighted to have been recognised at this year’s North East Chamber of Commerce Business Awards. 

Held last night (27 June), we were named winners in the Community Business of the Year category. 

The judges commended us for the wide range of community investment and support we provide, going beyond delivering our core services and leading the way in our sector.  

Ian Johnson, Executive Director of Customer Services, said: “Our mission as an organisation is to provide people with a strong foundation for life, a foundation from which people can fulfil their potential. To achieve our mission, it’s not just about putting roofs over customers heads but also about providing them with a strong community in which they can thrive.  

“We are incredibly proud of our work in this area, and we’re delighted this has been recognised in this way. Winning Community Business of the Year is testament to the hard work and dedication of our teams” 

Our commitment to community development has made a significant impact in supporting local communities. 

In the last year, our Community Connectors supported 167 initiatives with grants totalling over £295,000, and our Unlocking Social Value programme unlocked £604,000 in social value commitments from our suppliers and contractors.

These funds have been instrumental in driving place-shaping, employability and financial activities across our communities and in collaboration with NE14 Productions, enabled us to revitalise Merton Lodge community centre with £25,000 of funding. This initiative has introduced new services and activities, helping to reunite the community post-pandemic. 

We’ve also forged strong partnerships with organisations like Feeding Families, providing a £10,000 grant for their emergency fund. This brings our total support to around £70,000 since 2020, enabling us to distribute emergency hampers to customers in need. 

Our Money Matters service helped over 4,500 customers maximise their income and ensure they receive all the benefits they’re entitled to, generating over to £5.3million of income gains. Our employment and digital support service assisted 400 residents, with 169 securing jobs or completing training. Meanwhile, the New Start employability programme continues to equip customers who have struggled in the job market with essential skills and job opportunities. 

While Silver Talk, our befriending service, supported 308 older customers with weekly calls and community events, combating loneliness and isolation. We also provided free events for young people during school holidays through partnerships and funding from the UK Government’s Holiday Activities and Food programme. Over 1,800 children benefited from a wide range of activities and meals. 

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