The Sun’s Reader Fund has passed the £500,000 mark in donations to grassroots charities nominated by its readers.
The Sun launched the £1m fund in November, to provide vital support to the good causes closest to readers’ hearts as it turned 50.
Over 8,000 charities have been nominated, and nearly 50 grants have been given out, with a value of up to £20,000, the paper has revealed.
More will follow over the coming months, as the team scours nominations to find the most deserving causes to give some extra cash to in these difficult times, as part of the year-long giveaway.
Victoria Newton, Editor-in-Chief of The Sun said: “The Sun is the People’s Paper. We reach over 39 million people a month and we take pride in shining a spotlight on the causes they’re passionate about in their own local communities.
“Which is why we celebrated our 50th birthday last November by creating a £1million Reader Fund to provide much-needed support for an array of local charities and groups doing extraordinary things across the country, nominated by our readers.
“Already, our fund has done more good than we could possibly have imagined. Small charities up and down the UK have been struggling to fundraise during lockdown, so our grants have been a lifeline for them – and the people who rely on them.
“Of course, we can never repay the generosity of our readers, who’ve helped us raise an incredible £100million for important causes over the last five decades. The Sun’s £1million Reader Fund is our way of saying thank you.”
From Harlow to Halifax to Havering, The Sun has donated to charities in need all over the UK.
It has funded talking therapies, bereavement support services, emergency supplies for vulnerable children and families, advice, guidance and support for unpaid carers, hot meals, TVs, TV licences and computer tablets for the isolated elderly.
The Sun estimates that its readers have raised a total of £100m up to the end of 2019, and during Covid-19, Sun readers contributed another £1m to NHS Charities Together.
The final recipients for the Reader Fund have been chosen by a panel of famous faces from The Sun, including Jane Moore, the nation’s agony aunt, Deidre Sanders, political columnist Trevor Kavanagh, legendary Royal photographer Arthur Edwards, Executive Editor Dan Wootton, The Sun’s General Manager Jo Bucci and Help for Heroes spokesman Derek Derenalagi.
Here’s some examples of how the money has helped:
Tyneside charity Clothe and Feed, which offers supplies to vulnerable children and families has set up a delivery service, as restrictions mean they can’t visit their hubs. The £5,000 grant will help to fund van hire and essential goods for delivery. Volunteer, Rob Turnbull said: “We work with the churches, community groups, social services, the police and soup kitchens to reach vulnerable families and while our hub is closed we are helping them by supplying food packages through a network of small community groups.
“We know that what we are doing works and the money from the Sun Readers Fund will make a huge difference so we are very grateful.”
In South East London, Sun reader and chef Francis Carino, nominated the mental health charity Quo Vadis for a grant. The charity helps up to 200 people trying to rebuild their lives following personal crises. He said: “Quo Vadis Trust is close to my heart because without them I’d be on the streets. I still find it difficult to cope sometimes but I am settled and I know this is the safest place for me now. I volunteer for the charity. I built a large garden where I grow fruit and vegetables all year round.”
The £2,000 grant will fund a build a large greenhouse to increase the amount and range of produce the clients can grow and to lengthen the growing season.
Highlands and Islands Blood Bikes transfers urgent medical supplies, samples and equipment between hospitals throughout more than 10,000 square miles of remote northern Scotland.
It was started in March last year with two second–hand motor-cycles from a neighbouring blood bikes charity. With people furloughed from work, it has seen a surge in volunteers, with 100 people on hand to help out.
The £10,000 grant from The Sun Readers Fund has enabled the charity to pay for their first two specialist Yamaha motor-cycles, and for them to have the appropriate livery.
Spokesman George Sharp said:“What we do takes a weight off the NHS and if that is even more important now, during the coronavirus crisis, then we are happy to help.
We can’t thank The Sun enough. It’s absolutely amazing.”
Age UK has seen its income-generating retail shops and paid-for services shut down just when their help is needed more than ever.
Its Northamptonshire branch has had to completely reorganise its services because of social distancing. Chris Duff, chief executive of Age UK’s Northamptonshire branch, which even before the pandemic had more than 15,000 clients across the county, explained: “We have got a lot of expenditure and no money coming in, so we are delighted with the money from The Sun and how quickly it has been made available in response to the crisis.
“It is a lifeline at the moment.”
Their supply of hot meals has expanded quickly, and services include food shopping, making sure people have their medications, and a telephone befriending service. Money from The Sun Readers’ Fund will pay the equivalent of an extra 100 hours per week of services from the branch’s staff for 12 weeks.
The grants in full:
- Charnwood Christmas Toy Appeal – providing toys for underprivileged children in the Charnwood area. £5,000.
- Herts Inclusive Theatre – offering arts and theatre workshops for all. The grant is for an accessible stage ramp, lights and audio equipment. £8,000.
- Reigate and Banstead Women’s Aid – to host a Christmas party and provide presents for the children at the refuge. £5,000.
- Maddi’s Butterflies – A caravan holiday home for families of children undergoing cancer treatment. £15,000.
- Royal Naval Association West Bromwich Branch – a club for naval veterans needing new kitchen equipment. £6,000.
- Scarborough and Ryedale Mountain Rescue – request new lightweight waterproof clothing for volunteers. £8,000.
- Steps To Hope – a homeless charity based in Edinburgh. The request is for a catering van to provide hot food and drink. £20,000.
- Hampshire Harriers Inclusive Sports Club: Request funding for lightweight sports wheelchairs. £10,000.
- Smalls For All: A Scottish charity collecting and distributing underwear to women in need in Africa and the UK. £4,000.
- Inter_Action MK: To provide a children’s garden for Bradwell Abbey for young carers. £8,500.
- Amber Community First Responders: To provide kit for two new first responders. £3,000.
- Serve On: A humanitarian response charity offering new purpose to former military personnel. £15,000.
- South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade: Search and rescue unit providing back up to emergency services. £15,000.
- Shine Cancer Support: A charity providing support to young adults with cancer. The donation is to fund a conference for young adults in May. £10,000.
- Darlington and District Samaritans: A request to update the facilities in their branch operations room. Grant requested £2,000
- Not Forgotten Association: This association provides recreational activities and events as rehabilitation for Armed Forces veterans. Grant requested £6,000 to host 3 x fishing weekends for 10 beneficiaries at each.
- Give a Dog a Bone: This charity tackles loneliness and social isolation for older people through animal companionship by offering financial support to the over 60s who would love a rescue animal but can’t afford one. They also run a Companionship In The Community project. Grant requested: £10,000
- Highlands and Islands Blood Bikes: Transportation of urgent medical items in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Grant requested for running costs of the bikes and new high vis equipment. £10,000.
- Newlife Charity for Disabled Children: Providing care and support for children with a disability or life-limiting condition. Their emergency equipment loan service provides specialist equipment (beds, buggies etc) on loan to families in need. Grant requested to add new equipment to the loan suite. £20,000.
- Carers UK: A leading charity offering expert advice, guidance and support to unpaid carers. Grant requested to enable their helpline to operate 5 days a week over the next three months. £20,000.
- Age UK Northamptonshire: Have requested a grant to increase the hours of their staff over the next 12 weeks and extend their emergency support services. £18,000.
- St John Ambulance: The Derbyshire branch is requesting a grant to buy new first aid equipment for the East of England region. £20,000.
- National Literacy Trust: Providing emergency literacy support in response to the school closures in the North East directly benefiting up to 1,000 of the most disadvantaged children. £20,000.
- Essex and Herts Air Ambulance: The charity provides a life-saving service for critically ill and injured in Essex, Hertfordshire and surrounding area. Grant requested to fund six emergency missions. £13,200.
- British Lung Foundation: A charity clearly under great pressure at the moment. The grant would help increase the helpline capacity which has unprecedented demand currently. They are also looking to set up a befriending scheme offering weekly calls to those with the greatest need. £20,000.
- Women’s Aid Safe In Sussex: Providing vital services to people affected by domestic abuse. The funding is to help staff one of their refuges offering one to one support for six women. £20,000.
- The Good Grief Trust: A solely voluntary organisation for the bereaved. The grant is to purchase 52,000 Good Grief Cards to be distributed across UK hospitals and hospices directing the bereaved to a choice of support. £20,000.
- Clothe And Feed: Based in the North East the charity’s mission is to relieve poverty and financial hardship providing emergency food, clothing, toiletries and essential household items. £5,000.
- Sanderstead Neighbourhood Care: A small local charity offering help to the elderly and vulnerable by linking volunteers with those who need help. £2,000.
- Wheelers & Wobblers Sports and Social Club for People with Disabilities: The charity’s aim is to improve the life and well being of their disabled and elderly members, whatever the disability, through sports and social activities. £2,000.
- Homecall: A home visiting scheme for the visually impairied in Bexhill. £2,000.
- Mind in West Essex: Supporting people affected by mental ill health. Grant requested to provide 100 Talking Therapies counselling sessions. £4,000.
- Calderdale Lighthouse: Supply essential baby equipment, clothing, bedding, toiletries, toys and books to vulnerable and disadvantaged families. £10,000.
- AF&V Launchpad Limited: Providing accommodation to homeless veterans in Liverpool and Newcastle. Grant requested to help meet the running costs of Avondale House in Newcastle. £20,000.
- Essex Dementia Care: Providing one to one support to people living with dementia as well as respite and emotional support to their main care-givers. Grant requested to develop an allotment project in Bradwell Essex. £5,000.
- Team Rubicon UK: A nationwide network of ex-military volunteers providing disaster relief following worldwide weather disasters. Their initial application was made earlier this year but since then they have diverted their resources to helping our frontline emergency services and vulnerable. £20,000.
- Dunfermline Food Bank: Helping to relieve food poverty throughout West Fife. £2,600.
- Southampton Hospitals Charity, specifically the Piam Brown Ward Fund. The ward is the regional children’s cancer unit striving to improve the experience on the ward. Grant requested to fund their play leader for six months. £13,962.
- Firefly Cancer Awareness and Support: A support charity that transports cancer patients from the Doncaster region to the Sheffield treatment centres. Grant requested to keep the fleet of vehicles on the road whilst fundraising has been halted and maintain PPE requirements. £10,000.
- Calvert Trust Exmoor: An activity centre in Exmoor enabling people with physical, learning and behavioural disabilities to partake in outdoor activities. Although the centre is of course closed at the moment they have launched an emergency appeal to ensure their guests can continue to attend when it is safe to do so. £16,000
- The Quo Vadis Trust: This charity provides social housing, care and support for people in South East London with mental health difficulties, financial hardship and homelessness. Grant requested for a greenhouse in their Garden Therapy Project. £2,000.
- Hospice of The Valleys: Providing palliative care at home and in the day centre. £10,000.
- Havering Volunteer Centre: A small, local independent charity delivering volunteering services to the Havering Community. £15,000.
- Above & Beyond: This charity raises funds for nine hospitals within the Bristol NHS Foundation Trust. Grant requested to buy a mobile hoist for the Pediatric ICU. £5,472.
- FastAid Birmingham and Solihull: Providing additional resource to the West Midlands Ambulance service. Grant requested for new uniforms. £5,000.
- Trekstock: Supporting young adults in their 20s and 30s diagnosed with cancer. Delivering practical advice and social support programmes. £10,000.
- Carers in Bedfordshire: Offering specialised, tailored support to carers of all ages. £10,000.