The Sun is giving £1m to local charities nominated by YOU — here are some that have benefited so far
25th June 2020
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CHARITIES and their volunteers have battled to respond to ever greater need during lockdown, often as their funding has been decimated.

So The Sun has accelerated its 50th birthday £1million giveaway to small, local charitable operations nominated by YOU.

Already, our Sun Readers’ Fund has donated more than £500,000 to good causes up and down the land.

Here are just some that have benefited.

St John Ambulance, Derbys
(Health and Wellbeing) – £20k

ST John Ambulance workers have found themselves on the front line in the fight against Covid-19.

The medical volunteers have spent more than 100,000 hours tackling the pandemic, shoulder to shoulder with the NHS and Armed Forces, including helping to set up the seven temporary Nightingale Hospitals.

Volunteers have added a further 44,000 hours in support roles.

Sun readers in Derbyshire had appealed to our fund on behalf of the St John Ambulance East of England region for money to help their work.

The leading first aid charity, which has been around for more than 140 years, has 8,500 health volunteers nationwide.

In response to the pandemic, it increased training for more than 1,000 volunteers and fast-tracked more people with existing first aid qualifications and clinical skills into the organisation.

Volunteers worked day and night to support nurses fighting coronavirus.

Richard Lee, the charity’s chief operating officer, said: “We are ready should a second wave of the virus occur.”

A spokesman for the East of England region of the charity said: “St John Ambulance is very grateful to Sun readers for this generous donation. The money will be put towards essential training and equipment for volunteers.”

Highlands And Islands Blood Bikes, (Emergency Heroes) – £10k

THE incredible number of people stepping ­forward to help the NHS has been mirrored at the Highlands And Islands Blood Bikes.

The charity, which transfers medical supplies, samples and equipment between hospitals throughout more than 10,000 square miles of remote northern Scotland, was founded in March last year thanks to two second-hand motorcycles from a neighbouring foundation.

Now, with people furloughed from work and available to help out, it has close to 100 ­members.

Spokesman George Sharp, 76, said: “What we do takes a weight off the NHS and that is even more important now.”

The group has been operating 14-hour shifts during lockdown to cope with demand.

The riders often deliver at night and cover large distances. They offer a crucial service.

The money from The Sun Readers’ Fund has enabled the charity to pay for its first two ­specialist Yamaha motorcycles. George said: “We can’t thank The Sun enough. It’s absolutely ­amazing.”

Now, with increased demand for their services, volunteers are using their own bikes or cars where needed, but George promised that the ­contribution from the Sun would be recognised on one of the bike’s liveries so that people would know about your generosity.

Highlands And Islands Blood Bikes
(Emergency Heroes)- £10k

THE incredible number of people stepping ­forward to help the NHS has been mirrored at the Highlands And Islands Blood Bikes.

The charity, which transfers medical supplies, samples and equipment between hospitals throughout more than 10,000 square miles of remote northern Scotland, was founded in March last year thanks to two second-hand motorcycles from a neighbouring foundation.

Now, with people furloughed from work and available to help out, it has close to 100 ­members.

Spokesman George Sharp, 76, said: “What we do takes a weight off the NHS and that is even more important now.”

The group has been operating 14-hour shifts during lockdown to cope with demand.

The riders often deliver at night and cover large distances. They offer a crucial service.

The money from The Sun Readers’ Fund has enabled the charity to pay for its first two ­specialist Yamaha motorcycles.

George said: “We can’t thank The Sun enough. It’s absolutely ­amazing.”

Now, with increased demand for their services, volunteers are using their own bikes or cars where needed, but George promised that the ­contribution from the Sun would be recognised on one of the bike’s liveries so that people would know about your generosity.

Quo Vadis Trust, Lewisham, London
(Health and Wellbeing) – £2k

THE Covid lockdown has been a particularly worrying time for clients of the Quo Vadis Trust, which helps up to 200 people recovering from mental ill health in South East London.

They are among the most vulnerable adults in their area and were trying to rebuild their lives following personal crises such as family breakdown, domestic abuse, substance misuse and homelessness.

The dedicated trust staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to help those in the supported accommodation.

None more so than former chef Francis Carino who was housed by the Quo Vadis Trust two years ago.

He had spent nine years homeless after losing his job and family.

He is now a driving force behind the trust’s gardening therapy project, which helps clients to improve their mental health and gain job skills.

Francis, who nominated the charity for a Sun Readers’ Fund grant, said: “Quo Vadis Trust is close to my heart because without them I’d be on the streets.”

With £2,000 from the fund the trust will build a large greenhouse.

Chief executive Ingrid Tennessee said: “There have been challenges and feelings of fear among clients during the lockdown but the staff and volunteers have been wonderful.”

Women’s Aid – Safe In Sussex (Health and Wellbeing) – £20k

IT is a dreadful consequence of the lockdown that domestic abuse reports have soared among families confined together.

Safe In Sussex was already supporting around 500 women before the pandemic and the number of women in need has risen as the charity’s ability to help has been compromised.

Drop-in and outreach services have had to be put on hold, but the charity’s three refuges remain open and staff are working hard to find other ways to help survivors of domestic abuse.

Spokeswoman Louise Gisbey said: “There has been an increase in demand for our services but it has proved difficult to maintain contact with some women because, perhaps, the abusive person is in the home with them and not going to work.”

The charity’s refuges are taking in new women and children if they have a vacancy.

“It is vital we are there for them,” said Louise.

“If they are not showing virus symptoms and have not been in contact with anyone who has, we will take them in if we can. We do extra health screenings because the refuges are communal living.”

Staff provide one-to-one support for children and are working out how to extend their outreach services online.

Louise said: “We are so grateful to Sun readers.”

Carers UK
(Health and Wellbeing) – £20k

THERE were an estimated 9million carers in the UK before coronavirus struck – and now the number has shot up to 13.6million as an army of unsung heroes care for the sick and elderly.

Carers are twice as likely to have relied on food banks during the Covid-19 crisis – and many will be desperate for information to help them cope.

The figures were released by Carers UK, which gives expert advice, support and reassurance for those looking after a family member or friend.

Since the pandemic struck, the charity has dealt with hundreds of emails, and there has been an 80 per cent increase in the number of calls to its helpline.

The phones were manned two days a week – and thanks to money from The Readers’ Fund, that has now gone up to five days.

Laura Doughty, director of Carers UK, said: “It is more important than ever that unpaid carers get access to the advice we can give. Thanks to The Sun, we have been able to increase our capacity.”

She added: “Many carers spend a lot of time reassuring those they look after, but they need reassurance themselves. We are grateful to Sun readers for helping us expand the help we give.”

If you are a carer, call the helpline on 0808 808 7777 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Clothe And Feed
(Children and Young People) – £5k

THE coronavirus pandemic has been harsher on those who were already vulnerable, which means the work of the Clothe And Feed volunteers has been more important than ever.

The charity was inspired by an empty food ­collection point in a big supermarket in Newcastle, with volunteers convinced there had to be a way to improve levels of donated food.

While the scheme offering shoppers a “menu” of ingredients they could buy at the store was a big success, they also discovered some of the recipients were young mums with ­vulnerable children who needed baby equipment, clothes, toiletries, uniforms and white goods.

Today Clothe And Feed has three hubs on ­Tyneside providing more than £55,000 a year of good-quality, pre-used school uniforms, footwear, coats and PE kit for around 200 local schoolkids to parents in need – clothes that might otherwise have gone to landfill.

Lockdown restrictions meant families in need could not just turn up at the charity’s hubs.

So helpers hired a van to take food, toiletries and other goods out to more than 4,500 vulnerable children and families the charity helps.

Volunteer Rob Turnbull said: “We know what we are doing works and the money from the Sun Readers’ Fund will make a huge difference. Thank you.”

Essex And Herts Air Ambulance Trust
(Emergeny Heroes) – £13,200

SUN readers had special reasons to nominate the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT) for a donation from our fund.

Several of them thanked the EHAAT for saving their lives, or the lives of loved ones, or treating their catastrophic injuries.

Louise Yaxley told us: “I wouldn’t be here without them.” Louise, 48, suffered a cardiac arrest at home in Harwich in May 2018.

In spite of having multiple blood clots in and around her heart, lungs, liver and kidney, the helicopter team got Louise to hospital – where she came round three days later.

Freya Goulding told us how she was with her four young children in a park in Colchester in October 2018 when son Thomas, four, was hit by a bike, which snapped his leg.

A road ambulance team were unable to straighten his limb but because the air ambulance was able to bring hospital-level care, a doctor and paramedic on board anaesthetised Thomas and straightened his leg before moving him to hospital.

Mum Freya said: “In our eyes, they saved his leg.”

The 24/7 charity costs £750,000 a month to run and each mission costs £2,200, with crews attending six a day on average.

The donation from readers will pay for six life-saving missions.

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade
(Emergency Heroes)- £15k

FOR 154 years the brigade has been keeping its cliff-lined coast safe.

In the past eight weeks the dedicated team of 14 volunteers have saved two men from the River Tyne, staged a floodlit rope rescue after a man fell from a cliff and responded to other distress calls.

Charity spokesman Tom Fennelly said: “We remain on call. It is not exactly ­business as usual but we are always ready.”

In normal times, the brigade’s volunteers train to the highest professional standards in rope rescue, water rescue, first aid, communications and other skills in order to work with the Coastguard and emergency services.

In an average year they attend more than 100 emergency callouts, at all times of night or day, and provide stewards to support local community events.

Until recently their ability to dry their water rescue equipment after a callout had been ­hampered by the unheated facilities at their HQ on the South Pier at the mouth of the River Tyne.

Now, with a grant from the Sun Readers’ Fund, the ­organisation has been able to build a specialist drying room for its ropes, dry suits and flotation devices, plus an equipment store for first aid and comms kit.

Tom said: “Thanks to The Sun. It’s made an enormous difference to our facilities.”

Age UK, Northants
(Health and Wellbeing) – £18k

THE older generation are not only the most vulnerable to Covid-19, they are also the most isolated by lockdown and social-distancing.

But the charities helping them, such as Age UK, have had to temporarily shut down their income-generating shops and paid-for services just when demand for those services has increased by 75 per cent.

During lockdown Age UK’s Northants branch has made more than 4,000 deliveries of food, medicines and other essentials, as well as around 6,000 welfare and befriending calls.

It has also supported NHS testing in care homes.

Branch chief executive Chris Duff said: “I am really proud of our team and the way they have adapted at this time of adversity.

“Everything we do is focused on helping the older population in Northamptonshire, and we’re also delighted we’re able to support our NHS colleagues with such important work.”

But he added: “We have a lot of expenses and no money coming in, so are delighted with the money from The Sun and how quickly it has been made available in response to the current crisis. It’s a lifeline.”

Money from The Sun Readers’ Fund will cover three months’ pay for 100 hours a week of the branch’s key services.

The Literacy Trust
(Health and Wellbeing) – £20k

SCHOOLCHILDREN have been left delighted by the donation of free books to their school by The Sun during lockdown.

The excited year one pupils at Ridgeway Primary Academy, South Shields, Tyne and Wear, were all given a copy of Mr Trim And Miss Jumble, by Ed Boxall, to take home, along with kids from 19 other schools across the Newcastle area.

Head teacher Alex Golden thanked The Literacy Trust and The Sun Readers’ Fund, who teamed up to donate the books.

He said: “Books and reading are probably the most effective tool for levelling opportunity and raising children’s aspirations. Anything to get a love of reading is welcomed. We are very grateful to The Sun Readers’ Fund for the support.”

The 45-year-old, who has been head for two years and lives in Newcastle, added: “Taking the book home with you bridges the gap between home and school.

“It stops the idea that reading is something you only do at school.”

The pupils, all aged between five and six, gave the book rave reviews.

One little girl, Eliza, said: “I was excited and happy when I got given the book, I was laughing.”

Another pupil, Aleesha, added: “I share books with my mum and dad, I have got a new book now.”

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