A GRANT making charity has awarded £1million to help grassroots groups through the pandemic.

County Durham Community Foundation reached the milestone this week, after vowing to help Durham, Darlington and Tees Valley communities hard hit by Coronavirus.

The National Emergencies Trust (NETs) launched an appeal as Coronavirus arrived in the UK and began to spread. Nearly ninety million pounds was raised, and community foundations were chosen to help distribute the funds.

A further £200,000 was raised by County Durham Community Foundation through a Crowdfunder appeal and private donations. The £1million has been awarded to groups offering food parcels, suicide prevention support, help with mental health, prescription collections, PPE, incontinence products for end-of-life cancer patients and safe transport to and from hospital for treatment.

Michelle Cooper, chief executive of the Foundation, said: “We have such mixed emotions about this moment. We exist to help communities in an impactful way, and we are really grateful we have been able to award over 200 grants in such a short time.

“But we feel for the groups we are supporting, and in turn, the people they are keeping afloat. There have been some wonderful moments of kindness and human spirit, but it’s going to take a long time for people to recover. I want to thank our supporters, the National Emergencies Trust and our team for getting this money where it needs to be.”

BAME communities, the elderly, people who are homeless, children facing food poverty through missing school and disabled people have all been identified as key groups in need.

Groups like Linx Hemlington, based in Middelsbrough, which normally runs a thriving youth club and Detached work, is one of the groups awarded a grant.

The charity was awarded £5,000 by the Foundation to deliver food parcels and activity packs for families. Before then, Linx Hemlington had worked together with Neighbourly, Fare Share, Middlesbrough and Redcar Together, and Middlesbrough Council to meet need. Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston then put them in touch with the Foundation, who made the grant to keep the good work going.

Sara Mirsalehi, operational manager for Linx Hemlington, said: “Our main objective is to inspire young people in Middlesbrough. We work with young people aged 10 to 19 who are often facing a variety of disadvantages. When Covid struck we had to close our face to face provisions, centre based youth clubs and our detached provision. So we did a survey to see what people were struggling with, and food appeared to be the main issue. We have wonderful food banks but we needed to be more proactive and help those people who couldn’t wait for a referral or a voucher.

“We helped single parents, people who’d lost their jobs and people affected by furlough.