A HOST of charities supported by grants from a North-East building society have been brought together to celebrate their achievements and learn from each other.

Since 2018, Darlington Building Society has been committed to donating five per cent of its annual profits to good causes in the community, with each of its nine branches adopting five charities to support for a year through grants and volunteering.

For the first time, charities, which have benefited from the ‘Local 5’ initiative, gathered for a celebration event, staged at Theatre Hullabaloo, in Darlington, and paid tribute to the Society for its “fantastic” support.

The event was the idea of branch manager Nicky Donoghue, who told the charity representatives: “The vision today is to not only say thank you for the wonderful work you all do, but to create a networking forum where you can share ideas and learn how to support each other.”

The Northern Echo:

Since launching its 5% pledge in 2018, Darlington Building Society has given out donations approaching half a million pounds, with the support of County Durham Community Foundation (CDCF), which manages the community grants.

CDCF chief executive, Michelle Cooper, who was keynote speaker at the event, said: “The demand is huge, and it’s impossible to support every application, but there’s no doubt that Darlington Building Society can be extremely proud of its record in the community.”

The Society is a key sponsor of Theatre Hullabaloo, and chief executive, Ben Dickenson, also paid tribute to the Society’s charitable work, saying: “It’s so exciting to be in partnership with a building society that has such deep roots in the community and strong social values.”

As well as sponsoring the cafe area at the children’s theatre, Ben also thanked the Society for sponsoring this year’s ‘Hullabaloo In The Park’ festival, which was enjoyed by around 13,000 people.

Other speakers were given a platform to highlight the work of charities supported by Darlington Building Society. They were: Thomas Reed, of King’s Foodbank, in Darlington; Cheryl Scollay, of Yarm Wellness; and Karen Winspear, of Senses Wellbeing Centre, in Skelton.

Thomas revealed that King’s Foodbank had supported more than 700 families in Darlington over the past three months alone. “This wouldn’t be possible without the support of organisations like Darlington Building Society, so you deserve a big shout-out,” he said.

Cheryl added: “When we asked for help, Darlington Building Society listened, and that meant so much. The support has been invaluable.”

And Karen said: “When Covid hit, Darlington Building Society gave us £5,000 so we had central heating for our centre. You kept us warm and I simply can’t thank you enough for what you did for us.”