Thirty voluntary and community sector organisations in Sunderland have benefitted from more than £104,000 during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to donations from Empower Sunderland’s Community Fund and Gentoo Group’s Tenant and Community Voice Groups.
The vital funds were donated to organisations in the city that were known to be delivering important front-line services to tenants and residents on Wearside, with donations taking place throughout the year.
In 2021, £34,000 was donated to 22 community organisations thanks to a £17,000 donation from Empower Community Fund and £17,000 from Gentoo’s Tenant and Community Voice Groups.
In 2020, £70,000 was also donated to various voluntary and community organisations through the Empower Community Fund, including Wearside Women in Need, Sunderland Foodbank, The Fans Museum, Easington Lane Community Access Point (ELCAP), and many more.
The community fund was set up by Gentoo and Empower Community as a result of the Gentoo solar panel portfolio in Sunderland, with vital funds being generated from the portfolio to be distributed to local community groups and project with an environmental sustainability focus. The start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year meant that the fund could also be used to support local charities and voluntary and community groups that were delivering vital frontline support to tenants and residents across the city during a time of need.
Gentoo’s Tenant and Community Voice Groups are geographically led, with tenants and residents meeting throughout the year to consider local issues and help to improve services for local communities. Each forum donated more than £3,000 from its annual budget to support make the donations to community groups in February.
Empower Sunderland Community Fund is a pot of money that is generated by the solar panels fitted on the roofs of more than 2,300 properties across Sunderland, which are owned by Empower Community Solar. The fund runs throughout the year and provides grants to local voluntary and community groups that operate on Wearside. These grants are typically issued to support local organisations with sustainability and low energy-related projects.
Alex Grayson, trustee of Empower Community Foundation said: “The ability of the Empower Sunderland panel and Gentoo Group to adapt to the fresh challenges faced by the Sunderland community in the last year and a half has been very heartening.
“The revenue share from the solar panel portfolio had been focusing mainly on the improvement of community centres, with £175,000 donated since 2015 and a further £120k to be allocated this next year and will be meeting the changing needs of the Sunderland community.
Catherine Loftus, Head of Tenant Engagement and Satisfaction at Gentoo Group, said: “We’re extremely proud of the strength and resilience Sunderland’s communities have shown throughout the various lockdowns of the last year and I’m delighted that through our Tenant and Community Voice Group budgets and the Empower Community Fund, we’ve been able to support the local charities and voluntary and community groups at the heart of this.
“It’s been more important than ever that these groups have the funding to continue to provide meals, support and much more to the city’s residents and we hope these donations will support even more brilliant work in Sunderland.”
Becky Rodgerson, Director at Wearside Women in Need, said: “Huge thank you to the Empower Community Fund from Wearside Women in Need staff, residents, and the hundreds of women and children that benefit throughout the year. Your donations make a significant difference to life in refuge.”