A GROUP of 50 North-East charities have received an Easter present - a share of £400,870 from a national foundation.

The Lloyds TSB Foundation has £1.2m to give to the region this year and the first round of grants were announced yesterday in Durham City.

Rethink, formerly the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, is getting £10,000 for its Carers One to One Link (Cool) project in County Durham.

Rethink assistant operations manager Debbie Oxberry said: "This donation is wonderful news.

"Fundraising is difficult at the best of times and it is reassuring to know that an organisations like the Lloyds TSB Foundation is committed to supporting our essential work."

Foundation regional manager Peter Ellis said: "This is our first round of donations in 2003 which will support charities working at grassroots level, supporting a range of community activities.

"Our local presence means we can ensure that funding is reaching the areas of greatest social need."

Eleven other County Durham organisations are getting money.

They include the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Rescue Team, which receives £6,000 for a new rescue vehicle and equipment.

A £9,672 grant will help Bishop Auckland Community Partnership buy fixtures and fittings for the Four Clocks Centre and £10,000 for the North-East Council on Addictions will pay for a youth worker in Derwentside.

Among the donations on Teesside are £30,000 for Cleveland Alzheimers Residential Centre in Stockton and £10,000 for Middlesbrough-based Child Call North-East.