North East businesses have helped the region’s charities to the tune of more than £500,000 in the past six months by offering their skills and experience for free.
Companies including Greggs, Eversheds, Benfield Motors, Home Group, Carillion and EDF Energy are among 70 in the North East who signed up to SkillsBridge – a pioneering project hailed by the Government as a model of best practice.
Newcastle-based SkillsBridge matches volunteers from both private and public sector companies with charities and social enterprises in need of expert guidance and advice.
In the past year it has linked more than 100 charities with 60 business experts, who have provided them with around 2,000 hours of free support, on issues ranging from human resources and bookkeeping to creating a business plan and planning a strategy for growth.
“The value of their consultancy, in terms of the savings made to charities and the new income they’ve generated as a result, is truly remarkable and, as we are still quantifying the project, that figure may be far higher,” said SkillsBridge chief executive Andrew White.
“The support we’ve had from North East businesses has been overwhelming.
“The service we provide sounds like common sense but there was no one providing it.
“We knew that if we could get the right people on board this initiative could have real and lasting benefit across the region – and we’ve been proved right.”
Newcastle law firm Muckle LLP is one of the firms which signed up to the project and has recently been working with Trimdon Station Community Centre, a former miners’ welfare centre, at County Durham.
“The building used to belong to Durham County Council and, under the terms of the asset transfer, we had to negotiate a new lease,” said centre development manager Derek Bradley. “We also needed to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation and, quite frankly, we needed some help.”
The centre contacted Skills-Bridge, which immediately put them in touch with Muckle LLP associate Joanne Davison.
Davison said: “As a company we are committed to helping small community groups and organisations, like Trimdon Station Community Centre, which wouldn’t normally be able to afford or access legal advice. SkillsBridge facilitates that in a very organised and efficient way so that the help that is offered is directed to where it’s most needed.”