A NORTH-EAST charity has awarded more than £350,000 to Tees Valley groups helping communities survive coronavirus.

County Durham Community Foundation has been supporting community groups across County Durham and Darlington, but has also distributed funds to meet need on Teesside.

Women Today, which supports African women living in Teesside was one of these community interest groups in need of a fund injection, and was awarded £3,500 to help support older and isolated women of a ethnic minority in the area.

Women Today have been checking in on the wellbeing of these women and delivering parcels and prescriptions to them.

Locardia Chidanyika, who founded the company said: “The women we know are stressed and anxious. Some are having panic attacks and think they’re going to die.

"Many are ashamed to accept charity. We are helping with food, prescriptions and sanitary products; and offering reassurance.

“Often the older BME women in our community have experienced a lot more discrimination compared to younger women.

"Things are changing now, but emotionally they can lead a lonely life because of their past experiences.

"Some don’t feel part of the community even though they have lived here for many years.

“For example, one of the older women we know is terrified that she will have to go into a nursing home and be the only black person there, because she experienced a lot of racism when she came to this country."

Tees Valley, Durham and North Yorkshire Neurological Alliance were also awarded £5,000.

Joanne Cole, head of operations, said: "With this funding, we can keep an eye out for people and report who needs what and importantly, highlight the gaps in the infrastructure that isolate people away from the information they need."

Michelle Cooper, chief executive for the Foundation, said the money would support "brilliant groups" in the Tees Valley who are making a difference to people in this vulnerable time.

"We have been working hard to reach out to these groups and let them know that we are here to help," said said.

"To date we have been able to award grants to 71 groups, who do vital grassroots work in our communities.”