North East housing association, Bernicia, is fast tracking £200,000 to help charities and organisations tackle hardship caused by the Coronavirus crisis.

The funding has been allocated to eight local authorities across the region, with councils being given the freedom to use their local knowledge to ensure the money goes quickly to those able to deliver real help to people in need.

The cash is part of The Bernicia Foundation, a £1m charitable fund created by Bernicia to support organisations promoting social and financial inclusion and backing young talent in the North East.

John Johnston, Bernicia Chief Executive, said: “Normally the foundation seeks bids from individuals or organisations.

“But the current crisis poses a number of different challenges requiring a speedy response, so we’ve removed any unnecessary administration or delay in getting aid out quickly to communities.

“We’ve allocated funding across the North East local authorities where Bernicia operates and have contacted each council to make them aware of their allocation.

“Given our close working relationships with them and the fantastic work they are doing to co-ordinate the wider effort, we have asked them to specify organisations and charities who they would like us to make donations to, speeding up the allocation of the funds.

“They have been extremely complimentary about the fund, the speed of our response and the flexibility we are giving them to direct it to those in need, removing administrative burdens that otherwise would have delayed the funds going out.’’

Northumberland County Council is one of the local authorities to benefit from the foundation’s support.

Councillor Cath Homer, Cabinet Member responsible for community and voluntary sector support, said: “This is an absolutely fantastic announcement which will make a real difference to many people during this difficult time.”

John Holmes, Chair of Bernicia and the foundation, said: “Given the huge impact of the Coronavirus on society, the foundation trustees have brought forward a significant proportion of funding, as they wanted this to go out immediately to support people in need.

“We have fantastic local authorities in the North East and a wonderful community spirit where everyone is trying to help. As a North East business Bernicia just wants to support the region and its communities.”

Bernicia is working closely with local councils during the Coronavirus crisis.

They are sharing information to help keep vulnerable people safe, making extra welfare calls, properties available to help urgently rehome those in need and making staff available free of charge to fit adaptations into people’s homes to help them leave hospital more quickly, freeing up much needed beds.