A free online funding tool set up by South Tyneside Council is helping voluntary and community groups to secure the funds they need to continue delivering their vital work in the Borough.
The Open 4 Community portal allows groups to search through a database containing hundreds of grants, awards and other forms of financial assistance from the European Union, charitable trusts and the government.
By using the portal, Age Concern Tyneside South was able to successfully secure a grant of £5,000 from the Sir James Knott Trust. The money has been used to deliver community-based balance and stability sessions for people over 50 which improve confidence while also addressing social isolation and loneliness. The charity also successfully secured a grant to provide information on smart meters to older people with no digital access and a grant towards new uniforms for community-based staff to improve community safety and recognition for the charity.
Jackie Jamieson, Service Development Manager at Age Concern Tyneside South, said: "Having access to the portal has been invaluable to Age Concern as a local charity. It means we can keep up to date and be notified of a much wider range of funding opportunities that we may not have previously considered or been aware of.
"Competition for external funding is huge so to be able to search on specific themes or target groups is also extremely helpful and saves time. This is a free service that we would actively encourage other voluntary and community sector organisations in South Tyneside to use to maximise funding coming into the Borough."
Councillor Nancy Maxwell, Lead Member for the Voluntary Sector, Partnerships and Co-operatives, said: "We appreciate the importance of our community and voluntary groups and are committed to helping them access the funds they need to continue the valuable work they do across the Borough.
"With the public sector facing unprecedented financial challenges, these groups are becoming increasingly important in delivering the services our residents rely on. I am delighted that this funding tool is fast becoming the first port of call for many of our groups and is helping them to continue their sterling work in the community."
As part of the development of a Third Sector strategy, a single overarching organisation called Inspire South Tyneside has been formed. This provides support for groups wanting to set up a new group or charity and disseminates information, advice and guidance.
Development Worker for Funding and Governance at Inspire, Gill Smith, said: "I have found the funding portal invaluable. I receive regular updates from it which I then circulate, giving our third sector early notice of funding streams going live. This is often essential as many funders give tight deadlines by which applications for funding have to be made.
"The feedback I have received from voluntary and community groups has been incredibly positive.
"The portal is an extremely valuable asset and I would like to thank South Tyneside Council for paying for this resource."