A North East voluntary organisation is teaming up with a PR agency to help local charities boost their social media skills.

Darlington Cares, which coordinates the corporate social responsibility activities of local businesses and matches them to relevant projects or charities, is working with member firm Harvey & Hugo and its training division, Hugoversity, to develop a programme of digital support.

Charities are being urged to sign up to a dedicated microsite on the Darlington Cares webpage, where they will be able to access a range of tutorials and how-to videos created by the agency.

Chair of Darlington Cares and head of contact centre operations at EE Angela Howey, said: “The Darlington Cares Support for the Voluntary Sector project will unlock the professional capacity within our members and makes it available to voluntary sector organisations.

“We often see that charities are not of a scale where they have specialists as part of their team and so having the input of skilled and experienced professionals is invaluable.”

With many charities hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, and restrictions limiting the work of volunteers, the team at Darlington Cares felt it was the ideal time to develop a more digital offering.

Angela added: “Many organisations have had to shut their doors, and limit face-to-face contact with their customers and volunteers.

“Their income in many cases crashed – although a variety of government grants and trusts monies have kept them afloat – but the big issue moving forward will be resuming services and regaining financial stability.

“Because of their limits on size and staffing, the voluntary sector needs to be very adept in engaging with their clients and prospective customers, meaning social media is a vital tool in their armoury.

“We’ve been thinking of innovative ways to support the community sector for a while now, and, as Covid-19 has interrupted much of the physical volunteering, it gave us time to develop this programme.”

Harvey & Hugo has been a member of Darlington Cares since 2013, providing social media and public relations support, as well as taking part in the groups’ volunteering activities.

Managing director Charlotte Nichols said: “Now more than ever it’s vital for brands and businesses to get their voices heard, and that goes for charities too.

“Having worked alongside Darlington Cares for nearly a decade, we’ve seen first hand the power of a good social media presence, and so we’re delighted to be able to offer our support to the wider voluntary sector.”

While the social media support is the first part of the project to be launched, the organisation hopes to work with other member companies in the future to offer a range of professional support in fields such as finance and HR.