A North East social enterprise that supports people with disabilities is getting a cash boost of over half a million pounds to help more people gain skills and jobs.

Azure Charitable Enterprises, which provides care services across the North East and also runs a number of charitable businesses including Azure Garden Centre in Cramlington, a landscaping business, and a print and design business, is receiving £700,000 investment from the North East Social Investment Fund, managed by Northstar Ventures.

Azure, which was set up in 1982, aims to improve the lives of people with a disability or who are disadvantaged, by helping them live independently, gain skills and training and get into employment.

The funding will help the organisation continue to deliver and expand its services, providing new education, training and employment opportunities for people with a disability and those who want to pursue a career in care services.

Peter Wilson, CEO of Azure said, “Many people will be aware of our successful Garden Centre, printing, and landscaping businesses but not realise that they are, in fact, integral parts of our charity.

“We operate these businesses, with the support of the general public and business customers, to generate the funds we need to provide care and employment for people with a disability.

The investments we are making across our businesses, with the support of their customers and business patrons, will really help us make sure we can develop in the right way, enabling us to continue to help more people in the long term.”

Julie Wake, Investment Manager, Northstar Ventures said, “Azure has been going for many years, they are a great example of delivering impactful charitable activities as well as at the same time running successful businesses. We are pleased to be able to invest funds to support their plans which will impact positively on many more local people with disabilities.”