A CHARITY providing vital support for older people in the North-East will be strengthened by an “exciting” new partnership in 2017.

The Sherburn House Charity, founded by Bishop Pudsey in 1181, has announced that it is joining forces with County Durham Community Foundation (CDCF) to maximise the impact of its grant giving projects in support of vulnerable people across the region.

The charity – also known as Christ's Hospital in Sherburn or Sherburn Hospital – provides residential care and sheltered housing for older people in the beautiful grounds at Sherburn House in Durham. Another important function of the charity is to relieve need, hardship and distress by providing grants, both to individuals and to other organisations who work with disadvantaged groups.

CDCF has built up 21 years of experience in managing charitable giving for individuals, companies and trusts. During that time, the organisation has provided about £32m in grants to community groups and individuals on behalf of its fund-holders.

It has now been agreed that CDCF will take over the operational management of the grant-giving project because the Community Foundation can provide a bespoke service through its specialised software and grant-making processes.

This will allow the Sherburn House Charity to concentrate on a major refurbishment of their residential care home and further develop other areas of the business.

Two funds will be established, one for community groups and the other for individuals. As well as Sherburn House’s contribution, CDCF will uplift the grant-making fund by a further 50 per cent.

Those eligible for funding will remain the same as the established geographic area covered by Sherburn House Charity which stretches from the Tweed in the north to the Tees in the south.

Sherburn House Charity chief executive Pauline Bishop said: “After a lot of consideration, the trustees decided this was a great opportunity to pool resources and increase the grant-making pot for our area of benefit. Supporting those in need has always been our priority and we think using CDCF as a mechanism to distribute our grants will add significant value to that.”

CDCF chief executive Barbara Gubbins added: “We are very excited about this partnership arrangement and hope it will provide a streamlined and simple process for grant applicants. We have invested heavily in our grant-making service over the last 12 months and turnaround times should be six weeks or sooner.”