OPENCAST TEAM SELECTS 10 CHARITIES TO SUPPORT IN10TH YEAR AS DONATIONS PASS £100,000

Tyneside-headquartered tech consultancy Opencast has confirmed the names of 10 charities it will support in this its 10th anniversary year following a vote by people working across the business.

The donations from Opencast’s latest profits total £55,000 – taking the amount donated so far to charities by the fast-growing business past the £100,000 mark – and are part of the company’s ‘10 good things’ initiative marking the company’s 10th anniversary.

The 10 charities were chosen by Opencast employees after a vote across the company, and include a range of non-profits working in the North East, UK wide and also internationally.

Beneficiaries, which are all UK-registered charities, include a rape crisis centre, two housing and homelessness projects, a tree planting charity and a UK-wide suicide prevention agency.

Opencast’s people voted to support charities working to address four key causes that mattered most to them: poverty and inequality; housing and homelessness; environment and sustainability; and health and medical.

Opencast’s 10 charities of choice for 2022 by theme:

Poverty and inequality

  • Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland – providing free information, outreach, support and counselling for women aged 13 and over who’ve been raped or sexually abused
  • FareShare UK – a London-based network of food distributors that takes good quality surplus food and distributes it to more than 10,500 frontline charities and community groups

Housing and homelessness

  • Berwick Youth Project – a housing and homelessness charity that supports young people aged 13 to 25 with social, educational and cultural opportunities
  • Depaul UK – housing and homelessness charity working with young people in Manchester, the North East, Cumbria, South Yorkshire and London.

Environment and sustainability

  • Full Circle Food Project – charity that educates people living in Northumberland about growing food to eat, healthy cooking on a budget, and supporting people to lead healthier lifestyles
  • Trees for Cities – UK charity working at a national and international scale to improve lives by planting trees in cities, including through its ‘edible playgrounds’ initiative

Health and medical

  • Blue Sky Trust – Tyneside-based charity working to remove the stigma and discrimination suffered by those living with HIV
  • CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably – a UK-wide charity standing against suicide, particularly by men

International focus

  • Hope and Homes for Children – UK-registered charity working in central and eastern Europe and Africa to eliminate the institutional care of children
  • Homes of Promise – UK-registered charity offering hope to vulnerable, poor and destitute children in Uganda.

The first two years of Opencast’s charitable commitment saw distribution of donations totalling £50,000 to 17 charities based in and around the North East, via the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland. Each charity selected this year will receive a grant of £5091.

The company made an additional donation earlier this year to Ukraine-focused aid agency Operation Safe Drop – and its annual commitment includes matched donations to support individual fundraising efforts up to £250 per head, as well as a tax-efficient payroll giving scheme through the Charities Aid Foundation.

Sheena Widdowfield, Opencast’s head of learning and culture and chair of the company’s charity working group, said: “I am proud that Opencast is committed to giving 2.5% of its profits each year to good causes. In this our 10th year we wanted to give all our people the chance to have a say in choosing which charities should benefit from our donations.

“Although we are headquartered in Newcastle, we now have offices – and team members – across the UK and we wanted to reflect that in our donations.

“We sincerely hope our donations improve the lives of those who’ve turned to our chosen charities for help. Our thanks go to the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, which has awarded eight of our 10 donations for this year through our Opencast Charitable Fund.”

Elaine Holdsworth, senior philanthropy advisor at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, which is distributing funds through the Opencast Charitable Fund, said: “I am delighted that Opencast continues to support important causes with eight of the chosen charities supported with grants from the Opencast Charitable Fund.

“We know how hard our brilliant charities are working to enrich the lives of people in our local communities and across the UK. Grants like this are vital to their continued stability and success. This is a wonderful example of a company demonstrating a genuine and ongoing commitment to making a difference in society, and we are proud that they chose to establish a fund with us, to help make this happen.”

Sarah Robinson, chief executive of the Full Circle Food Project, said: “Full Circle Food is extremely grateful for this generous grant from Opencast. We work in Ashington, Northumberland trying to alleviate food poverty by education about growing food, cooking skills and food budgeting. We also provide an open access food larder twice a week. Our services are for children, young people and adults.”

John Bell, manager of Berwick Youth Project said: “We’re incredibly grateful to the Opencast Charitable Fund for this fantastic gesture of support, which will be used to support young people experiencing homelessness or a risk of becoming homeless. We’re still learning about the full extent of the impact of the last two years of Covid, but there’s no doubt we have huge issues in the availability and cost of safe and secure housing going forward.”

Jane Davidson, chief executive and trustee of Homes of Promise, said: “We’re a small charity working in Uganda, working mainly with street boys and supporting the poor. Life in Uganda is extremely difficult, with inflation rising and people struggling to find enough to eat. We are thrilled that Opencast’s people have chosen us as one of its charities to donate to this year. Its donation will make a difference to our work and enable us to take in and support more youngsters from the streets.”

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