A North East housing association is putting the proceeds of its commercial property arm to work for its communities with the launch its own charitable foundation.
Bernicia, headquartered in Ashington, Northumberland, has launched the £1 million Bernicia Foundation to help fund projects and initiatives that will deliver “real and lasting community benefits”. It will also seek to support individuals to “achieve their ambitions”.
Over the next four years, the foundation will channel profits from Kingston – Bernicia’s commercial property business – and invest them in the housing association’s people and communities across the region.
The foundation is being led by Andrea Malcolm, Bernicia’s director of people, culture and communications, along with a board of trustees. They will prioritise social and financial well-being, and nurturing young talent and innovation.
“The Bernicia Foundation is an exciting opportunity for us to award grants to organisations committed to delivering real community benefits, such as tackling loneliness and accessing employment opportunities, as well as providing support for young talent to flourish,” said Malcolm.
“As a responsible business and landlord, we recognise the important role and opportunity we have to support our wider communities.
“We are inspired daily by the creativity and determination of people across our region to support one another, and want to do all that we can to help.”
The foundation will operate in addition to Bernicia’s existing social value commitments, which focus on health and well-being, developing employability skills and creating work experience and apprenticeship opportunities.
It will make two types of grant to organisations and people across Tyne and Wear, County Durham, Teesside and Northumberland.
Inspiration Grants of between £5,000 and £10,000 will be made to voluntary or community groups, registered charities, social enterprises and co-operatives with an annual income under £750,000 per year.
Inclusion Grants valued at up to £1,000 will target inspirational young people aged 24 and under or organisations helping young people.
“We are really excited to hear about the Bernicia Foundation coming on stream,” said Julien Lake, Chief Executive of Berwick Community Trust, a charity that works with Bernicia to give people the skills they need for employment.
“We think it will be a fantastic opportunity for communities to think about how they can work together with Bernicia and to make life a little better and more rewarding for people right across the North East.”
John Johnston, Bernicia’s chief executive, added: “The Bernicia Foundation will provide additional support to our communities at a time when arguably they need it the most.
“Bernicia’s commercial company, Kingston, which provides estate, property and facilities management expertise to 20,000 homeowners, operates under a profit-for-purpose ethos and gift aid their annual surplus to Bernicia. The Bernicia board determined that £1 million of this, over the next four years, should be used to support the work of our newly established foundation.”