North Shields is a riverside town in North East England and is one of the most deprived areas in the country with poverty and unemployment rates higher than the national average.
Local charity Meadow Well Connected works with some of the most disadvantaged people in North Shields. It runs a community centre which provides a wealth of services, training and volunteering opportunities including a crèche, work experience schemes, accredited training, IT drop-in sessions, drugs and alcohol counselling and debt advice.
Carole Bell MBE, the charity’s Project Manager, explains: “The centre has been running for 15 years and is a lifeline for many people. The area suffered riots 20 years ago and is still feeling the effects, anti-social behaviour and drug and alcohol abuse is a big problem. The community relies on our services and people come from far and wide to visit us. However, as an organisation, we often struggle for funding.
“We approached the Lloyds TSB Foundation for England and Wales as it funds core costs, something that many funders didn’t offer, but was vital to our survival,” Carole continues. “It’s all very well having great services and innovative projects, but what’s the use if you don’t have the funding for staff to deliver them?
“I found the Foundation’s approach to funding really refreshing. As well as funding core costs one of the Foundation’s Grant Managers, Peter, visited us in person before we were advised to apply for funding. It was wonderful to be able to show someone from the Foundation our work rather than having to explain it to them in an impersonal and formal application form. To really understand what goes on at the community centre you need to see it, you need to feel the buzz the place has – which is very difficult to convey in an application form.”
Following Peter’s visit Meadow Well Connected was advised to apply for funding and so completed an application form, which was then submitted to the Foundation and reviewed by the grant team. The organisation was successful in their application and in March 2009 received a two-year grant of £25,000 to help pay for the Project Manager’s salary.
When asked what this funding has meant to the organisation Carole says: “It has given us the financial security we needed to continue delivering our services, which make a huge difference to the lives of our beneficiaries.
“For instance, one of our learners, David, who completed our horticulture course, has been awarded the adult leaner of the year by North Tyneside Council and now plans to attend Newcastle College and become a horticultural tutor himself. While another two of our learners who were on work experience at our crèche took on additional training and now run the facility and also lecture at the local college.
“That isn’t to say times haven’t been hard,” continues Carole. “In fact, we almost had to close the community centre this year, but our second year’s grant payment from the Foundation has kept us going.
“The funding from the Lloyds TSB Foundation has literally been a life saver, enabling us to weather some very difficult times and remain sustainable,” concludes Carole. “I also think the funding has helped us attract other funders – we recently received funding from the Big Lottery. In a nutshell, the Foundation understood our funding need and the real impact of our work when few others did.”