County Durham Community Foundation’s ‘Poverty Hurts’ appeal raises more than £1.1 million

The County Durham Community Foundation’s ‘Poverty Hurts’ Appeal has reached its ambitious goal of raising £1 million in less than 12 months.

The Poverty Hurts Appeal has seen donations from thousands of people across the region, as well as businesses committed to making a difference in local communities.

The funds raised are being distributed to local community groups, volunteer projects, individuals and families in need of support.

But it’s a bittersweet milestone for Chief Executive, Michelle Cooper MBE who is seeing the need increase across County Durham, “It would be really easy to stand here and congratulate ourselves at a time like this, but it’s vitally important to remember that the need is actually growing. There are more people than ever in County Durham that are feeling the effects of rising prices, and it’s pushing more and more people over the poverty line.

“Thankfully, we have generous supporters and fundholders, who either hold long-term funds with us, or who make regular or one-off donations. It’s their support and commitment to making a difference that has allowed us to reach this target and enabled us to support thousands of people in County Durham. There’s no way to begin to adequately thank them.”

County Durham Community Foundation raises funds and then awards them, through grants, to other charities, community groups or community projects, groups that are at the heart of their communities, fighting poverty and enriching lives.

In the last nine months alone, the Foundation has awarded £5.5 million in grants to groups, compared with £4.9 million in the 12 months previous. A clear sign the growing need continues, “We’re talking and meeting with charities and community groups every day,” Michelle commented “and what we know is they’re doing everything, trying to support more people than ever, with less funding than ever. There is so much more work to be done to make sure people aren’t choosing between heating and eating, to make sure children are well-fed, healthy and nourished.”

To mark the appeal passing the £1 million milestone, Michelle took the time to personally visit various charities and organisations that are beneficiaries of its grants.

Speaking during the visit she commented: “Seeing the tangible impact of the funds and the difference they are making to real lives is genuinely heart-warming. The generosity of donors and supporters is overwhelming, and I am hopeful we can work together to fight poverty over the winter months.”

Darren McMahon from PACT House in Stanley said: “The funding has supported our foodbank which is a mix of waste food we collect each day from supermarkets and cash and carries and also provides a crisis food bank which is tinned and long-life items to help someone over a little bump in their life. It also helps a community café which provides three free meals a week. When we started the foodbank, we were seeing 20 or 25 people a week, now we’re seeing sometimes up to 50 people a day.”

Jemma Hewitson, manager at Sherburn Hill Community Hub said: “I’d like to say thank you for supporting us and keeping our doors open. It’s a place where everyone can come and feel warm, safe and loved as well. I think if places like this didn’t exist a lot of people wouldn’t have places to go to feel warm and safe.”

Siobhan Viggars from Beyond Limits added: “We help anyone in the community that is vulnerable, whether that is poverty, bereavement or physical or mental ill health. The support from County Durham Community Foundation has been absolutely amazing. It has enabled us to continue to purchase the food, household goods and everything we need to actually deliver that emergency aid.”

The Foundation is asking for donations no matter how small to go towards the Poverty Hurts Appeal this winter, to support local people living in poverty. With Winter Fuel payments allocated to everyone over the age of 66, they ask that those who may receive the allowance but are fortunate enough not to need it, consider donating to the Poverty Hurts Appeal online or talk to the Foundation directly.

Anyone in County Durham donating their Winter Fuel payment to the Foundation can have their donation matched, meaning they double the difference they make to people who need it this winter.