The projects we are currently involved in:

EUSS support (10/09/2021 – 01/09/2022)

The project will support EU citizens and others affected by exiting the EU (e.g., spouses of EU citizens and others eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme) to have their rights respected and upheld. We will do that through supporting EU citizens to use the EU status effectively, including teaching them how to prove their online status to outside organisations, as well as advocate on behalf of those who are unfairly treated (e.g. refused housing despite having EUSS). 

– At least 35 out of 50 clients will report better awareness of how to prove their settled or pre-settled status 
-At least 25 out of 50 clients will be able to gain access to services such as housing or healthcare as a result of being able to prove their status   
-At least 25 out of 50 clients will receive successful support with updating the details after they have changed  the,m (e.g. mobile number, ID) 

ICOS is grateful to the Watkin Family Fund at the Tyne and Wear & Northumberland for funding this project. 

Eastern European Support Project (EESP)- phase 3

Through EESP(3) will offer individual, flexible support to EE communities in Sunderland/surrounding area. This will enable more people to fulfil their potential by working to address problems at the earliest possible stage. It will be done through regular one-to-one support with a range of issues, including help with contacting/responding to public bodies/organisations (e.g. the local council, GP practices, schools), support with correspondence as well as attending services in person. Access to information and signposting to appropriate services- (such as English/ESOL classes, health/well-being services or legal advice) will also be core to the offer. The project will be delivered by our current staff and 10 volunteers will be recruited. The project will provide better access to advice and guidance/early intervention and we will target at least 120 beneficiaries. Of these, we expect that 70% will report that their problems have been solved/prevented, 35% will report better health/wellbeing and 35% will report a better financial situation.

ICOS is grateful to the National Lottery Community Fund for their funding.

Bernicia Project (August 2020- November 2021)

Through this project, we provide intensive, end-to-end support to apply to access work, education and training, with the end of improving the employability of migrants living in the local area. Support will be provided in person and it will be flexible (e.g. in terms of times when the support is provided) to ensure barriers to participation are removed, the project focuses on recent migrants and those BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) people who have limited access to information, language skills or support networks, especially refugees who have recently been granted refugee status and Eastern Europeans. We will support clients into work, education and training through: 

-Advice/job-search assistance: One-to-one support with job searching, CV-writing, job applications, interview preparation, depending on client’s needs.

-Work experience: access to volunteering opportunities in a range of areas (e.g. administration, event-organising), both external and internal. 

-Holistic support- e.g. some of the clients might be interested in self-employment or starting their own business rather than employment.
ICOS is grateful to Bernicia Foundation for their funding.   

Eastern European Women Survey (2021)

ICOS is working together with Sunderland University on a research into the experiences of women from Eastern and Central Europe. This research should help us to find out what their needs and problems are, so that we can provide better support to them. This research should also help to ensure that local agencies and organisations take their needs into account.

Read the Interim Report: Survey Findings HERE.

Sunderland’s CLLD programme (2021-2022)

The Sunderland Community Led Local Development Programme (CLLD) is a five-year programme to deliver local jobs and economic growth, supported with funding from the European Structural Investment Fund. This project will provide sustainable economic benefits in areas of Sunderland that faces significant challenges because of, for example, social exclusion, limited job opportunities, or low levels of employment. It aims to support activities that help to enhance employment and skills provision.

ICOS – COVID-19 support

For the last 6 months, we have been dealing with an unprecedented situation- the COVID-19 crisis. Migrants, including refugees and Eastern Europeans, are often the first to be made redundant and the last to be employed and many do not know how to access benefits and services, while many support and advice agencies are closed. We are currently supporting many clients in person and remotely (over the phone and Zoom) to help them during this difficult time. This includes:

-Digital inclusion- access to free (new and refurbished) tablets, mobile phone top-ups

-English language support- we have created an English language class for those self-isolating or unable to access other/mainstream provision due to the virus

-Wellbeing activities, including coffee mornings/afternoons

-Emergency support- including access to food parcels and food vouchers, as well as energy top-ups

-Advocacy and advice- support with accessing housing, benefits and other services

-Employability- help with finding work for those who lost employment due to the crisis

Clients include victims of modern slavery, domestic violence and hate crime. As of 29/10/2020, we have directly supported 80 clients who need support due to the virus (estimated 250 family members have also benefited from our support, but more than 80 have been registered).

We are grateful for the generosity of our funders, including Lloyds Foundation, the National Lottery Community Fund, the Tyne and Wear & Northumberland Community Foundation and the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria and Tesco (Bags of Help) for supporting different elements of this vital work.

Back in Control Project (2019-2021)

The aim of the project is to improve the economic, social, personal outcomes of victims of modern slavery/workplace exploitation, for people from ethnic minority groups residing in Sunderland and a 5-mile radius. ICOS will support victims who have been abused in getting back in control of their lives and be victims no more.

The Project is to offer free support employment rights, access to housing and welfare benefits, as well as support with accessing immigration advice and counselling.  ICOS works with partners who provide legal advocacy support, English language courses and interpreting services to encourage people to learn new skills, which will not only improve their employment prospects but also increase their confidence, self-belief and mental health well being.

ICOS will support at least 140 individuals through one-to-one advice, advocacy and confidence-building activities. Moreover, it will support organisations such as employers to improve their employment practices. We hope to transform Sunderland into an area where employment is fair for every employee.

We have engaged with 74 clients as of 04/05/2021.

54 of them have exited the project and 42 have improved their financial situation, 45- have reported feeling more in control of their life.

Wise Steps Tyne and Wear BBO Phase 2 (July 2019 – March 2022)

The 2nd round of the project started extremely well for ICOS. So far, we have engaged with 49 out of the target of 50 clients and 19 have already left our project (10 with a job outcome). The project provides employability support to individuals far from the labour market, including vulnerable individuals. Our support includes one to one support with job searching, applying for jobs, interview preparations etc. and it also provides holistic support to remove barriers facing those wanting to enter education, training or find a job (e.g. access to welfare benefits).

Specialist support with self-employment or even counselling can be provided by specialist partners.

ICOS’s role within the project is to work with BME people in Sunderland (however, we can accept anyone who lives in the Tyne and Wear area).

The project is jointly funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund (ESF).

ICOS is the only BME organisation in Sunderland working on Wise Steps and one of only two in the whole of Tyne and Wear.

Women’s Engagement and Empowerment

We have recently started the first-ever Eastern European Women’s Support Group in the North East of England

Regular bi-weekly meetings are held and the content is decided by the women- so far it has included health, social events and a mindfulness session, as well as hate crime training with Northumbria Police

Individuals support, e.g. with regards to personal development (such as applying for free courses with local providers) or access to welfare

So far, we have engaged with 27 women, 6 of whom have become volunteers

East Rangers (2021 – 2022)

The project started in April 2021 and will last until March 2022

It includes regular environmental activities (such as litter picks, maintaining greenery) and educational workshops held across the East of Sunderland.

ICOS is the lead provider for St Michael’s ward and works with volunteers, partner organisations (such as Friends of the Backhouse and Barley Mow Park), to organise activities in Backhouse Park and several other areas

If you are interested in volunteering at our litter picks or helping with installing bird houses etc., please contact Daniel Krzyszczak:

Smoking Cessation

We have started delivering smoking cessation in 2019 as part of our contract with Sunderland City Council

So far, we have engaged with 15 clients

The project supports often vulnerable people to quit smoking, while also earning income for the charity

Representation and policy:

We continue to represent new communities in Sunderland and beyond and make sure we are heard and visible.

We are an active member of the Sunderland Black and Minority Ethnic Network (SBMEN,, which helps us to work together and be heard. Michal Chantkowski represents SBMEN at the board of Sunderland’s Community-Led Local Development.( ) as deputy chairperson.

We are also involved in the regional skills board, the North East Migration Partnership, Sunderland’s local area committees and Northumbria Police’s Independent Advisory Group.

People’s Powerhouse- strategic engagement:

-09/11/2019, we organised a successful even to engage Eastern European current and potential entrepreneurs with the Northern Powerhouse agenda and talk about the priorities they believed the government should be pursuing with regards to supporting small businesses in the region. We engaged with about 20 people.

-on 19/11/2019, our staff (Michal, Julia and Alessia) delivered a workshop at the annual People’s Powerhouse convention. This session focused on the issues that migrants in the region face when it comes to progression into work and training, as well as in-work exploitation and abuse.

The Back in Control project we have recently started opens up new opportunities for influencing policy.

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