Frontline charities and community groups in Sunderland benefit from £27,000 donation

Twelve frontline charities and community groups have received vital funds to continue providing important services to residents on Wearside during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to a generous £27,000 donation from Empower Sunderland’s Community Fund.

The Community Fund, which was setup by ourselves and Empower Community and as part of a solar panel portfolio across Sunderland, usually issues grants to support local organisations with sustainability and low energy-related projects. With many local community groups struggling to generate funds during the crisis, the Fund’s Board of Trustees and panel has decided to issue donations to local community groups and charities, ranging from local foodbanks to youth groups, who are specifically delivering frontline support to vulnerable and shielding residents across the city.

The vital funds have been donated to known organisations in Sunderland, including Veterans in Crisis, Youth Almighty, Easington Lane Community Access Point (ELCAP) and More Than Grandparents, each of which have received £2,000 to help support the work they continue to deliver to Sunderland’s residents during lockdown.

From delivering hot meals to vulnerable residents and providing community support to those who may be isolated, to dealing with increased demand for services, organisations have been forced to adapt their operations due to COVID-19 restrictions. It’s hoped the donations from Empower Sunderland’s Community Fund will further support this work.

Empower Sunderland decided to make a larger donation of £5,000 to Wearside Women in Need, a dedicated community service for women and children suffering abuse, to help the organisation to continue to provide their services during times of heightened concern.

Alex Grayson, trustee of Empower Community Foundation said:

“While the current national situation is extremely challenging, it’s been inspiring to see how community groups and organisation in Sunderland have adapted and stepped up to support the residents of Wearside when they need it the most.

“That’s why we’re absolutely delighted to be able to use our community fund to support these organisations and the vital work they are doing. We recognised an immediate need for funds and we hope that these donations can help the community groups continue to deliver their vital services over the coming weeks.”

Nigel Wilson, Chief Executive Officer at Gentoo Group said:

“Sunderland is a brilliant city and during the hardest times of this pandemic, these community groups and organisations have shown the true heart of Wearside by continuing to provide vital services and supports to tenants and residents across the city. This work is greatly appreciated and hopefully the donations will further support more vital work to be carried out.”

Becky Rogerson, Director of Wearside Women in Need said:  

“We thank Empower Sunderland Community Fund for helping us to tackle the worrying trend in domestic abuse statistics during this difficult period. Our services have never been under such pressure, and we thank partners across Sunderland for rising to the challenge in keeping families safe. It’s not over yet, and we all need to be vigilant – please look out for family members and friends, there is help if you need it, our services are open”

Michael Ganley, Founder of Fans Museum said:

“To receive these much needed funds was a complete surprise, one we truly appreciate and will ensure they are used to their full potential, helping us maintain a daily outreach delivery service for the elderly, and enabling us to communicate with safe distances to keep morale up and isolation at bay.”

Shaun Newton from ELCAP said:

“This funding will help to continue our much needed ‘Click and Collect’ shopping service for vulnerable people in our community. Several elderly residents have stated the service is a lifesaver as they were desperate and concerned as to where they would get shopping from, one lady was so desperate she even contemplated suicide. Now they look forward to seeing a friendly face at least once a week.”

Empower Sunderland Community Fund is a pot of money that is generated by the solar panels fitted on the roofs of over 5,000 properties across Sunderland, which are owned by Empower Community Solar. The fund runs throughout the year and provides grants to local voluntary and community groups that operate on Wearside, as long as they meet a set of criteria.

Since it was established in 2016, the community fund has awarded over £139,000 to over twenty organisations in the city.

The full list of organisations who have benefited includes Youth Almighty, Shiney Row Advice and Resource Project (SHARP), Easington Lane Community Access Point (ELCAP), Wear Fishing and CHANCE, SNCBC, More than Grandparents, Fans Museum, Veterans in Crisis, Washington Foodbank, Hetton New Dawn Foodbank, Sunderland foodbank and Wearside Women in Need (WWiN).

If you are an organisation which is currently delivering services in Sunderland and are in need of support, please contact Michelle Palfreyman at for more information.