Dozens of volunteers with a Newcastle community charity are receiving extra support thanks to a four-figure grant from the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation.

Caring Hands provides a wide range of community-based services around the east end of the city, including a busy community laundrette, and has around 4,000 people benefitting from its support every year.

It is now using the £3,000 grant towards the cost of its volunteer coordinator, who organises the recruitment, induction and well-being of a 60-strong team of volunteers, for the rest of the year and into 2023.

Based in Shieldfield, Caring Hands operates under an ‘open door’ policy, meaning that anyone who needs help, advice or just a cup of tea and a chat can simply turn up at their Wretham Place headquarters

The community laundrette is open four days a week for the general public and offers a collection and delivery service in the city’s East End for older people and those with health issues who aren’t able to manage their laundry themselves.

It also runs a free counselling service via telephone and face-to-face meetings, while its befriending service works to tackle social isolation through regular telephone conversations, events and one-to-one home visits or activities.

Help with odd jobs and gardening is also available, while a small equipment loan service allows health professionals to access equipment that their patients need to enable them to continue living independently.

Dawn Henderson, manager at Caring Hands, says: “Our community laundrette is about much more than just getting your wash done, and the collections and deliveries that our volunteers make give them a chance to talk to service users and make sure that they’re safe and well.

“A great deal of effort goes into organising our volunteers’ work schedule, but the difference they make to the lives of so many local people makes it all worthwhile.

“Many of our volunteers use the references we give them for their work with us to go on to find permanent jobs, which increases what we’re able to give back to the local community, and we’re always keen to hear from new people who’d like to get involved with what we do.

“Raising the money we need to pay for our services is always a worry, and especially so at the moment, so we’re really grateful to the Society for their generous donation to our work which means we can direct more resources towards other important activities.”

Caring Hands is actively looking to recruit further volunteers to help it meet the growing local demand for its services.

Lynn Richardson, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s Gosforth branch, adds: “Caring Hands offers clear proof that what might seem like little things can make a really big difference to the lives of thousands of people.

“We’re proud to be able to support another great community organisation with our home city and would encourage anyone who thinks they might be able to volunteer with Caring Hands to find out more about doing so.”

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund at the Community Foundation has contributed over £2.1m in grants and partnerships to a wide variety of charities and projects across the region, including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Prince’s Trust.

The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 151,000 people.