Newcastle Building Society (2)
Between November 2022, and November 2023, ICOS was funded by the Newcastle Building Society, through Community Foundation Tyne and Wear & Northumberland to support minority ethnic people to access paid work, training and improve their skills. We have worked with 29 people, exceeding the original target of 25 through one-to-one support with CV wiring, jobsearching, identifying and accessing training and applying for work, as well as helping clients to make decisions about their career priorities.
-11 clients have found paid work
-9 have accessed training and gained qualifications
-13 clients have reported improved financial situation
-“Happy with the support. It was brilliant”
-“Thank you for caring”.
We are grateful to Newcastle Building Society and the Community Foundation Tyne and Wear & Northumberland for their generosity.
Through the Greener Activities Program (2022- 2023), we have worked with a total of 91 adults and 164 children- 255 people to make them more aware of environmental issues affecting us, and what could be done about them through workshops and sessions, and practical activities including:
-Installing bird feeders
-Bat/owl/bird watching and walks
-Educational activities on upcycling, protecting hedgehogs or creating environmental journals
The project was funded by the Esh Construction fund at County Durham and Darlington Community Foundation and we are grateful to our funders for providing us with an opportunity to help the environment and engage local people in environmental activities.
Out of the 74 participants we have been able to capture full data for, 62 have reported taking environmental action as a result of our work.
We would like to wholeheartedly thank the funders for their support, which has enabled us to provide vital work with the community.
Thanks to funding from the Together Fund and RISE, ICOS delivered 57 sessions, engaging a total of 139 BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) people from Sunderland and the surrounding area. Out of the 139 clients, 80 attended more than once, and a number have become regular attendees, increasing the likelihood that they will continue to be involved in sports, now the funded phase of the project has come to an end. We have also delivered about 150 hours of activity. The project has also involved a total of 9 volunteers, who have been involved in setting up the activities, advertising them, and in some cases- delivering them. Some have also helped with client registration and office tasks, as such monitoring and evaluation and data analysis. Fundamentally, the volunteers and the clients have been able to co-produce this work through deciding what activities they wanted to take part in. A total of 9 volunteers have been included in the delivery of the project. This number included 5 volunteers who had been involved with ICOS before, and 4 completely new volunteers.
Through the evaluation of the work we have delivered under the project, we know that:
-almost 80% of the clients have said that the project had improved their mental health
-almost 90% of the clients have said that the project had improved their physical health
-almost 90% of the clients have said they had befriended new people during the project
-over 90% of the clients have said that the project had made them more active
Based on the 2022 HACT (https://hact.org.uk/) figures, the project has resulted in significant social value, including:
-At least £137,360 in benefits derived from being a member of a social group. This is based on the total adjusted value of someone being a member of a social group of £1717, times the 80 people who have attended the activities more than once.
-At least £291,040 in benefits derived from taking part in infrequent mild exercise. This is based on the total adjusted value of infrequent moderate exercise being valued at £3638, times the 80 people who have attended the activities more than once.
These give a combined estimated value of £428,400
The project has overwhelmingly targeted clients from disadvantaged groups, including Eastern Europeans, asylum seekers and refugees, who often feel isolated, have limited financial means and limited knowledge of what is available in the local area. Many of the clients have suffered trauma in the past (e.g., some of the activities have been targeted at women only, and some of the women within the ICOS women group have experienced domestic abuse in the past).
The project has been successful in delivering t its objectives and exceeded its targets due to dedication and passion within the team, the reach into the local community ICOS has, and being able to offer a variety of activities, so that it offered “something for everyone”.
Activities delivered under the project included:
Feedback from the clients who have taken part in the activities:
Brilliant Session, thank you!
Brilliant session, kids loved it, good to try.
Thank you very much.
So far so good I would say. Was great, thanks for everything.
Lots of fun, nice food and nice people
It was good
Very good experience
Great – Excellent Activity
Good – Excellent Activity
Have fun socialising – would like more of these actually
Space for football (needed)
More space, better knowledge of what’s happening
More sitting spaces but great overall
Daycare for kids needed
On average, clients scored the sessions at 8.9 out of 10 (on a rising Likert scale, where 10 meant “great” and 1- “poor”.
Issues encountered during the delivery of the project have included:
-Access to activities for asylum seekers, who cannot afford public transport and often live in locations far away from where the activities have been held. We have been able to partly resolve this issue by working with Mears, the asylum accommodation provider, to organise travel from the accommodation (e.g., using hired vans and taxis).
-Short length of the project- only about 6 months has meant that we have had to work at pace.
-Unreliable contractors and coaches have at times resulted in session cancellations and having to move sessions to another date and time.
-Similarly, weather conditions have sometimes affected the delivery of outdoor sports, even during the summer.
-Sustainability- it has been difficult to find alternative funding to continue the project. This is due to several issues, including eligibility for funding- many funders only want to fund new and not already existing activity, or only want to fund a particular type of sport, where this is not what the community wants. Some types of sports funding are also geared towards one particular client group, e.g., young people and children, rather than specifically targeting the wider community, or even the BME community.
Nevertheless, we are currently awaiting the outcome of several funding applications. We are also working with an external consultant to make our projects more commissionable and apply to other funders, such as the NHS or Public Health.
During phase 2 of the Wise Steps BBO project (https://www.thewisegroup.co.
Contract value: £36 000. This project provided employability support to 44 clients (almost all BME, 15 were refugees), as a result, 16 progressed into work and 18 into training (some achieved both). 7 were over 50. ICOS provided one to one support with CV writing, job applications, accessing training and qualifications, as well as flexible barrier removal- including help with accessing housing for refugees recently granted status.
Our project focused on improving awareness of the local marine life and environmental issues through creative activities and workshops. In total we delivered 6 sessions where 28 women and 19 children have benefitted from the project.
These included three creative workshops with a local artist Maggie Hsiao who organised workshops using sea glass including sea glass pendants, sea glass painting and sea glass and driftwood workshop, these workshops encouraged participants to go to the beach and find personal materials they wanted included in their art work.
We also organised a visit to the Wild Oysters Project where participants learned about the native oyster, their environment and habitat, the project volunteers have helped to pull the oyster nurseries out of the marina and record data. We have also organised a beach clean-up with the two minute foundation, where we have learned how plastic can be harmful to local sea life and the environment and as a celebration of the end of the project we organised a trip to North Tyneside Aquarium and beach.
During the project we have recorded data on participant entry and exit forms to measure how the project was beneficial to participants. We have included questions (on a scale from 1 to 10) which had asked specifically about women’s confidence, creative skills and environmental awareness. We had also used The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale to measure a change in people’s wellbeing before and after the activities. At the end of the project 56% of participants reported that their wellbeing has improved (50% in mental health improvement and 37.5% in physical health improvement), 44% of participants reported that their confidence improved, 33% reported an improvement in creative skills and 14% improved their environmental awareness.
- 224 adult volunteers and 235 children took part in weekly clean-ups.
- We organised 49 litter picking sessions and 73 seasonal activities to maintain the park and St Michael’s Ward.
- It helped to make a difference by creating awareness and reducing the environmental impact of human activities.
- Clean up efforts helped remove debris and prevent damage to the natural habitats and wildlife in the Park.
- Maintaining invasive species helped to restore natural habitats.
- 5415 kg of litter, refuse and green waste was removed from the Backhouse Park and St. Michael’s Ward
This project was funded by Community Partnering Fund at Leeds Community Foundation and ran from December 2021 and December 2022. It provided 44 BME women with support, guidance and advice on employability and access to education. 6 clients accessed education, 11 received support with employability and 5 found employment. 8 women volunteered and 11 applied for STEM-related roles. The analysis of the data recorded on registration and exit forms showed that 45% of women reported improved wellbeing, 20% reported improved financial situation, 50% reported improved knowledge of the STEM sector, 45% reported improved overall confidence and 45% reported improved confidence when applying for STEM related roles. Through the project, it was found that there is a high need for this sort of work to be delivered to BME women in Sunderland and surrounding areas. 59% of women had a bachelor’s degree or above level of education, 16% faced barriers such as poor English language skills, communication problems and lack of access to information.
Between December 2021 and December 2022, ICOS supported 75 clients through a project funded by The 1989 Willan Charitable Trust at Community Foundation Tyne and Wear and Northumberland. almost 40% reported increased wellbeing and financial situation and 75% reported that some or all of their issues had been resolved. Clients included EU citizens, refugees and asylum seekers.
Between December 2021 and December 2022, ICOS supported 31 clients through the Bellway project. After the Russian invasion of #Ukraine, the project focused on supporting Ukrainian women and their children to support them to access services and integrate. As a result of the project: 31 adult clients (and many more children) received support, 16 reported better wellbeing, 11 reported better finances, 15 received a benefit award, 13 progressed into work and 24 received support with translations. 8 clients were able to access new housing and 3 were able to have a housing issue (such as rent arrears) resolved.
Through the EUSS (EU Settlement Scheme) Support Project, we supported a total of 51 clients to improve their understanding of the scheme and uphold their rights, as well as to prove their immigration status. We supported 20 clients to prove their status for employment, benefits, housing or education purposes and 17 clients needed a supported referral (including translation/interpreting support) to access immigration advice. Due to the support received through the project you funded, 19 clients reported an improved wellbeing (we used the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale) and 16 clients reported improved financial situation (e.g., as a result of accessing benefits or paid employment). We also held 4 awareness raising workshops in Sunderland and Newcastle. We would like to thank the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland for their funding.
During the project, we supported a total of 43 clients of which 37% have been unemployed and 28% already employed but have been looking for better and more stable employment opportunities. We supported 35% of clients with accessing training, courses and education, this support included help with registering for courses with college such as ESOL classes or Functional skills. Clients have also accessed in person training such as First aid or Customer Service which they have received certificates for and a number of clients also accessed online training. 23% of clients received support with job searching including help with registering for job searching websites, recruitment agencies, support with filling out job applications and communicating with potential employers. As a result of this support 44% of clients reported an improved confidence, 5 clients have stated that they have found employment as a result of our support. Additionally, 8 clients have accessed training this included ESOL, English language classes, Functional Skills, First Aid, Customer Service Training, Fundraising training and out of these 4 have gained an accredited qualification, some clients continue to attend their courses including ESOL. 47% have stated that their financial situation has improved as result of our support.
‘Appreciate all the staff and help from ICOS’
‘ICOS staff help was more than excellent thank you’
‘I am very happy with the support I got from ICOS’
‘I am happy with ICOS’s service’
Due to the funding we have received from Postcode Neighbourhood Trust we have been able to work with 112 women through the ICOS women project. Our Project has focused on delivering an Eastern European women’s group to improve women’s confidence and wellbeing, skills and isolation, 66 women attended women’s group workshops and activities which included sports sessions (Yoga and Zumba) arts and crafts sessions (brusho workshops, collage making, printmaking and felting), celebration events (International Women’s day, Halloween), citizen science activities (beach clean ups with data recording, identification of marine species) we also have organised various trips including a science trip to The Dove Marine Laboratory and a wellbeing trip to High Force which has also been attended by Ukrainian refugees who had also benefited from women’s group activities as well as one-to-one support. Due to the high need for this project we had to secure additional funding to start delivering Eastern European women’s group activities in Newcastle and surrounding areas.
We worked with 112 women during the project delivery, 66 attended women’s group activities and 18 took part in volunteering, some volunteers also took part in training (e.g. Domestic Abuse, Life Saving Skills). One volunteer started delivering group activities for mum’s and children (50 children benefited) and we delivered 27 sessions in total. 28 received one-to-one support (including 9 survivors of domestic abuse) 54% of women received help with accessing welfare benefits and 32% with housing. We have managed to collect exit data from 64% of women who received one-to-one advice and using the Warwick Edinburgh mental wellbeing scale scoring 61% stated their wellbeing had improved (this includes isolation), 45% stated that their confidence has improved, 39% stated improved skills and 39% stated their financial situation has improved. Additionally, out of these women 9 received a benefit award, 6 felt safe from abuse, 5 reported an improved housing situation and 4 accessed new housing.
We supported 28 women with one-to-one advice and guidance of which 50% have been unemployed and 25% have been economically inactive (those with disabilities and single mothers). 32% of women needed support with domestic abuse, this help included safety planning, reporting incidents to the authorities, support with communication with social services, local authority, financial advice and finding safe accommodation and refuge referrals, 6 women stated they feel safe from abuse. 54% of women received support with access to welfare benefits including applications for Personal Independence Payment, Universal Credit, Child Benefit, council tax support and pension credit, 9 women reported they have received a benefit award. 32% of women had housing issues this included being threatened with homelessness or poor living conditions (support with contacting with housing providers, complaints, housing applications with housing associations and local authority, 5 reported an improved housing situation and 4 women have accessed new housing. 18% needed support with financial advice, this included setting up repayment plans (e.g. with energy companies, council tax or overpayment of benefits), 7 women indicated that their financial situation has improved. Other support included employability (e.g. help with job applications, CV’s), access to services (e.g. support with finding solicitors), translation and interpreting including in person, over the phone, correspondence and support with communication (e.g. DWP, HMRC, local authority, local MP), access to healthcare and energy advice. Additionally, 56% also have been referred to other appropriate service for further support including to refuges or specialised domestic abuse services (Harbour or Wearside women in Need, Fining Legal Options for Women Survivors (FLOWS), Citizen Advice Bureau or Age UK. 50% of women also accessed emergency support including food vouchers or have been referred to foodbanks or Love Amelia (who provides clothing, nappies and toiletries for mothers and children).
The project has encouraged community development, we had 18 volunteers who had supported the project in various ways including volunteering at events, workshops and group activities, support with office tasks and administration and one volunteer had started delivering mum’s and children’s activities and has also made a link with a local food store who had donated refreshments for these sessions. In total 50 children have attended mum’s and children’s activities (this included mum’s with children who had survived domestic abuse) this has allowed for the women to create a support network and a safe environment.
Through the project we have engaged with various local organisations including MBC Arts Wellbeing, Engaging Environments Project (Newcastle University), Sangini (arts organisation for BME women), North East Ambulance Service, Seascapes and Wearside Women in Need. This allowed us to build new partnerships and create new opportunities (including volunteering) for our beneficiaries on the project. Furthermore, we have delivered a research project with University of Sunderland exploring the experiences of discrimination of Eastern European women in Tyne and Wear, women who have benefitted from ICOS Women project have also been involved in our research project.
‘I’ve been asked to return to my home country’ An exploration of discrimination experienced by Eastern European women in Tyne and Wear Report: Part 1. Survey Findings July 2021 (https://sure.sunderland.ac.uk/id/eprint/13971/)
An exploration of discrimination experienced by Eastern European women in Tyne and Wear: Project report, Part 2 (https://sure.sunderland.ac.uk/id/eprint/14580/)
ML, who is originally a woman from Poland, had accessed the project as she needed one-to-one support with low income, access to welfare benefits and support with interpreting and communication due to having problems with the language barrier and low confidence. The client received support with applying for Universal Credit and Council Tax Support which have been successful and also has been referred to the Citizen Advice Bureau for support with debts. ML also started regularly attending women’s group activities to improve her wellbeing, confidence and meet other women, she had enjoyed the group so much she wanted to volunteer for the project. ML started supporting ICOS with organising events and activities, took part in various workshops and training including a lifesaving skills training with North East Ambulance Service. ML started conversations with the women who attended the group who had expressed that there isn’t many activates for Eastern European mum’s with children and that women find it difficult to meet other mothers due to language barrier and isolation, ML came up with the idea to deliver a mum’s club once a month (with focus on single mothers and survivors of abuse), she has managed to speak to a ethnic food shop who had agreed to sponsor the mum’s club activities by providing refreshments for activities. ML had organised various events including coffee meetings (with arts and crafts activities for children) and picnics. There was a great response from the women regarding these activities and they expressed interest in more activities with children. ML has expressed that this project has created many opportunities for her and that her confidence and skills (including English language and organisation) improved massively. She has met a lot of new people who really value her within the community and she also gained a lot of inspiration from others. ML would like to continue delivering these activities as there is a great need for it in the local community.
Through the Operation Payback Fund Project, we support Eastern Europeans affected by hate crime, domestic violence and other crimes.
ICOS supported 34 beneficiaries (we had originally stated on our funding application that our target will be 30). This figure included 20 adults and 14 children, out of these adults 16 have been female and 4 have been male of which 10 have been victims of domestic abuse, 6 have been victims of antisocial behaviour, 3 of hate crime and 1 assault and 1 fraud. Additionally, 25% of beneficiaries have indicated they have been economically inactive (of which 15% had a disability) and 20% have been unemployed (who have been referred to our employability projects after they have been exited from Operation Payback Fund Project).
The families that we have supported needed a lot of long-term support with safety planning, communication between authorities, housing, and social services to make sure they would be in a safe environment and away from the perpetrators.
Through this project we have provided significant support to women who have been single mothers with children who needed support with various issues including financial support, mental wellbeing (for them and their children), isolation and housing needs. We have supported a lot more households who have struggled with domestic abuse than we have anticipated, and this could be due to several reasons including more victims coming forward as ICOS is becoming more specialised in supporting victims and delivering by and for women’s projects and/ or the number of domestic abuse cases have risen due to COVID19 pandemic.
During the project we have referred 35% of beneficiaries to other, more specialised services such as Finding Legal Options for Women Survivors (FLOWS) and North East Law Centre, Family Triage, legal advice services, Domestic Abuse Services such as Wearside Women in Need, Women’s Aid, Shelter, Foodbanks and Love Amelia (providing clothing and toiletries for babies and children). We also supported 4 women with preparing documents for legal aid application and support with interpreting during solicitor appointments face to face as well as over the phone.
Additionally, 4 households have accessed new and safe housing and 4 also had a positive benefit outcome recorded on their exit forms.
The Together for our Planet, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, aimed to inspire local people to take care of the environment/take practical action and create momentum for change in the community. It focused on a particular geographical area- St Michael’s ward, Sunderland and Backhouse Park (Ryhope Rd, Sunderland SR2 2EF) within that ward, engaging minority ethnic people, including refugees, asylum seekers and Eastern Europeans. While it built on the success of the East Area Rangers project (https://icos.org.uk/past-
The project focused focus on two main areas:
- Creative activities, focusing on families- including local environmental surveys (e.g. on birds, butterflies, bugs), identifying different species, making bird houses and feeders from recycled materials and upcycling- e.g. making items such as homemade poop dispensers, as well as restoring the Sensory Garden at Barley Mow Park (adjacent to Backhouse Park) with the local community.
- Green employability- supporting clients to access accredited and unaccredited environmental training (delivered by an external partner organisation), including on invasive species, land management, invasive species: control and eradication, use of equipment (such as strimmers), risk assessment and health and safety.
Throughout the year, 130 adult volunteers and 190 children took part in weekly clean-ups. We organised 39 litter picking session and 89 seasonal activities to maintain the park. It made a difference by creating awareness and reducing the environmental impact of human activities. Clean up efforts included removing debris and preventing damage to the natural habitats and wildlife in the Park. Eradicating invasive species has helped to restore natural habitats. 2915 kg of litter, refuse and green waste has been removed from the Backhouse Park and St. Michael’s Ward. Volunteers delivered 1944 volunteering hours.
The project provided regular environmental activities (such as litter picks, maintaining greenery, painting, basic repairs) and educational workshops held across the East of Sunderland.
ICOS was lead provider for St Michael’s ward and worked with volunteers, partner organisations (such as Friends of the Backhouse and Barley Mow Park), to organise activities in Backhouse Park and several other areas
We have been able to engage over 271 adults and 248 children in local activities in the Backhouse Park, as well as elsewhere in the ward. We have also delivered a total of 48 activities, including 42 litter picks and 6 other activities, such as educational workshops (many of the litter picks were also accompanied by other activities in the park, such as children’s activities for refugee and other families during the refugee week). The project has also delivered a considerable number of volunteer hours (3415), generating an estimated social value of £40980, and over 3545 kg of waste has been removed (not including non-standard items found).
The project got people together, engaging volunteers from a variety of countries and the majority community in improving the local area and helping the environment. Two of the volunteers progressed into paid employment. Many volunteers, including refugees and asylum seekers reported feeling less isolated and improved wellbeing as a result of taking part in the activities.
The time of the pandemic affected vulnerable groups, such as refugees, who are often traumatised by being uprooted from their previous lives even more, deepening the feeling of loneliness and isolation. Finding a sense of belonging can be difficult for them, especially in a completely new place and culture. Spending time in nature was essential to the wellbeing of many. Backhouse Park became a welcoming space for a daily exercise, which in the long term had a positive impact on mental health and this pattern continues so far.
The project has also led to a considerable increase in local partnership working- a total of 18 partner organisations got involved, including:
-Friends of the Backhouse and Barley Mow Park
-St Anthony’s School
-Birdwatch North East
-Sunderland Growing Together Network
-University of Sunderland
-Groundwork North East
-Sunderland Symphony Orchestra
-Hendon Regenerative Culture Garden
-Northumbria Police Cadets
Here are some other achievements accomplished through this project:
- we have created the wonderful Fairy Trail, enjoyed by the local families:https://www.sunderlandecho.com/lifestyle/family-and-parenting/new-trail-delights-visitors-to-sunderland-park-heres-how-to-find-the-hidden-magic-3241095?fbclid=IwAR071M4v8HyuxsYhtMTclUSx41wlOhyYc0q04hs-te0GPdU-KoNc1V2WeBs
- only this year, we have organised several big events to bring communities together: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/q_e1gtvJG8M https://www.facebook.com/ICOSsunderland/videos/739093440710902
- our work with Autism Society, reducing the isolation and improving wellbeing of young people with autism through park-based activities
Media and social media links:
Between August 2020 and August 2021, ICOS was funded by the Lloyds Foundation to support migrants in Sunderland and the surrounding area during the pandemic.
The COVID19 grant has enabled us to support migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers (13 of the clients were refugees, who had been particularly affected by the pandemic) through one to one support, wellbeing sessions and English classes. We supported a total of 45 clients in total. 27 of them (63%) reported the improved financial situation and 24 reported better well-being, 19 reported improved skills, 2 entered paid employment (13 clients were asylum seekers with no right to work, hence they could not progress into the labour market).
The support we delivered through this project was holistic in its nature, e.g. many clients attended both- English classes/wellbeing sessions and received individual support with issues such as access to benefits or healthcare (e.g. registering with a GP practice). The main barriers we supported clients with were financial hardship, limited English language skills and lack of the EU Settlement Status (for EU migrants).
The board of trustees would like to express our gratitude for Lloyds Foundation’s funding and support.
Through this project, we provided intensive, end-to-end support to apply to access work, education and training, with the aim of improving the employability of migrants living in the local area. Support was 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 had 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, and interview preparation, depending on the 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.
We supported 36 clients from a range of countries, including asylum seekers (who were supported into training and volunteering, not work, due to the fact that they could not legally progress into work).
This funding enabled us to support clients who were ineligible for other types of support- e.g. clients who had recently been on an EU-funded project who could not get support from another EU-funded project, or clients who had no access to public funding. The inclusive nature of the funding ICOS to support those who are not normally able to access mainstream employability programmes due to being in work (e.g. people who were on furlough, or those on a “zero-hours” contract.
We have achieved the following outcomes:
We have supported 16 clients to access accredited training, including food hygiene certificates, safeguarding, risk assessment for events or forklift driving. Most clients achieved level 1 qualifications, but some were able to achieve level 2 training. Additionally, 14 clients have also been able to improve their English language skills and 3 became volunteers, one progressed to study at the University. 6 people progressed into paid employment (as stated above, some were not legally able to progress, and some were seeking progression into a different job, e.g. when they were on a 0 – hours’ contract.
-51% of the clients reported better wellbeing than before the project
-40% of clients reported greater confidence
-46% of clients reported a better financial or material situation
We have received very positive feedback from our clients, who were especially thankful for support they have received to stay connected (e.g. mobile top ups) during the pandemic, as well as access to free courses and training.
Some off the project clients were also interviewed as part of our annual client survey (more information available here: https://icos.org.uk/our-impact/ )
We have also been able to run dedicated online English language support sessions (in response to the COVID19 pandemic) for the local migrants at times when colleges and other mainstream providers were unable to deliver in – person support. These classes not only supported our clients to improve their English language skills, but also help them to meet and reduce their social isolation.
Between September 2020 and July 2021, ICOS was funded by the Barrow Cadbury Fund to deliver dedicated, emergency support to BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) people in Sunderland and the surrounding area. This support was focused on dealing right the effects of the pandemic and was holistic and targeted, the main areas being:
- access to services and benefits, including housing
- access to emergency material support- including food parcels, food vouchers, energy top-ups
- help to communicate with services and institutions
Clients received, on average, between 10 and 20 hours of support.
Through the project, we supported 66 clients, achieving the following results/outcomes:
- 27 clients reported an improved financial situation and 11 received support access to material support- including food vouchers, referrals to the Red Rose Fund, mobile top-ups and energy top ups, as well as food parcels and access to the local authority hardship support fund
- 29 clients reported an improvement in their health and wellbeing (measured through the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale)
- 4 found work and 8 accessed training or education
- 4 of the clients volunteered
- 5 reported that their skills have improved
- 10 have been referred for support with the EU Settlement Scheme to partner organisations (children’s Society and Newcastle Law Centre). Most have now received their status.
Clients included Eastern Europeans, refugees and other migrants.
ICOS is grateful to the funders of this project- the Barrow Cadbury Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund for funding that has helped us to make a real difference to clients’ life at this difficult period of time.
Between 2013 and 2016 ICOS worked with Northumbria University, Sunderland University, Nottingham Trent University and the Regional Refugee Forum to research the financial inclusion of migrants in the North East of England. Read the final report HERE.
In May 2020, ICOS was granted financial support to help victims of crime from Eastern Europe and other minority ethnic backgrounds during the time of the pandemic. This emergency response project focused on providing extra support to those affected by domestic violence, modern slavery, and hate crime. Additionally, we also provided support to victims of antisocial behaviour. Our target for this project was to support 35 individuals. Overall, we supported 38 individuals, of which:
- 15 received support with antisocial behaviour,
- 12 had been victims of hate crime,
- 11 domestic abuse and
- 9 of modern slavery.
The project achieved the following:
- 32% of our beneficiaries reported an improved financial situation at the end of the project
- 26% of our clients had received help with benefits, this included applications for Universal Credit, council tax support, benefits check and child benefit.
- 5 beneficiaries received emergency support including food vouchers, utility top-ups or/and mobile phone top-ups,
- We have referred 4 clients into Hardship Fund from Red Cross due to having no income (e.g. not eligible for benefits due to current immigration status or moving into temporary accommodation, not having benefits or employment).
- We have also referred our clients onto other appropriate services including Wearside Women in Need, Foodbanks, solicitors, local housing associations (such as Gentoo or Bernicia), FLOWS and Children’s society for EU Settlement scheme applications.
- 61% had reported improved well-being which is a success. (we had used The Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale to measure this.
- 19 clients reported that they now feel more confident to report crimes to the police.
Often, victims struggled with communicating with services such as the police, housing providers and legal support services. ICOS helped them to connect with the relevant services, actively advocated on their behalf, as well as support them in a holistic way, e.g. through helping them to access counselling or benefits. The funding has also helped ICOS to provide remote support. ICOS would like to thank Northumbria PCC for funding our project and enabling us to make a real difference in people’s lives.
Between March and May 2021, ICOS, working in partnership with Sunderland Bangladesh International Centre supported 90 minority ethnic people for whom English was their second language to fill in the 2021 Census. Census Champion Certificate
In March 2021, ICOS organised an event encouraging minority ethnic women to progress into STEM jobs and training, with 13 women attending. Please see the report here: STEM Report March 2021
The project started in June 2019 and runs till April 2021 (due to an extension).
It included regular environmental activities (such as litter picks, maintaining greenery, painting, and basic repairs) and educational workshops held across the East of Sunderland.
ICOS was the lead provider for St Michael’s ward and works with volunteers, and partner organisations (such as Friends of the Backhouse and Barley Mow Park), to organise activities in Backhouse Park and several other areas
Throughout the project, ICOS engaged with 175 volunteers, removed over 5000 kilograms of rubbish and engaged with 126 children. This was achieved through delivering 40 activity days, including 5 educational workshops.
We have also installed bathhouses, and bird houses and created a grass meadow.
ICOS has helped the council to save £33960 in man-hours (valued at £12 per hour per volunteer multiplied by the number of hours)
The project got people together, engaging volunteers from a variety of countries and the majority community in improving the local area and helping the environment. Two of the volunteers progressed into paid employment.
Between September and December 2020, ICOS provided support to 23 clients through the Community Foundation COVID19 project, funded by Community Foundation Tyne and Wear & Northumberland.
The project focused on providing emergency support to clients affected by the COVID19 pandemic. Within this relatively short period of time, we have been able to achieve the following:
30% of our beneficiaries had stated that their financial situation has improved as a result of our support and 39% had stated that it stayed the same or there was no change to their financial circumstances.
As a number of clients had turned to us for support due to redundancy, furlough or reduced hours at their place of employment, we have been able to support 52% of clients with employability due to losing their employment due to covid19, out of those 12 clients, 4 had successfully entered new employment, 1 had accessed training and another person had expressed that this project has helped her develop new skills including job-searching skills.
Additionally, we have supported 6 participants with access to benefits such as Universal Credit (UC), child benefit, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and council tax support applications.
ICOS is thankful for the funder- the Community Foundation Tyne and Wear & Northumberland. For their funding, which enabled us to support minority ethnic people including Eastern Europeans and refugees during this difficult time.
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria to organise workshops engaging the Eastern European community, including victims in areas such as crime prevention, hate crime and community/family safety. We had engaged with 25 clients.
From our registration forms for the project we have found out that out of 79 beneficiaries 34% were experiencing problems with health and wellbeing; 30% needed help with meeting new people, 29% were experiencing problems with communication, 28% lacked access to information and 18% had reported financial problems. Out of the 36 women who have received one-to-one support we have supported 20% with access to welfare benefits including Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Maternity Allowance and New style ESA. 18% have received help with translation and interpreting (over the phone and in person). 10% had received help with employment including support with writing a CV, job searching and writing applications and 8% got help with access to healthcare (including contacting GP services, hospitals, setting up appointments and accessing free prescriptions). 6% got help with housing and another 6% received support with financial advice including a referral to CAB and setting up payment plans. Other help included contacting services such as Sunderland city council, social services, setting up a bank account, online banking, support with discrimination at work and access to training or education.
We have created an evaluation at the end of the project, we have asked questions relating to confidence, new skills gained during the activities, meeting new people and if they would be interested in continuing attending women’s group activities and if yes, which ones?
From 15 returned evaluations, 80% of women have reported having their confidence improved. 80% have also reported having improved skills (empathy, meditation, CV writing, English language, communication, positive attitude, knowledge, well-being and volunteering) due to attending women’s group activities. 93% of those who completed an evaluation reported meeting new people during the project and 100% would like to continue attending women’s group activities. 93% of women expressed that they would like to take part in trips and cultural events. 80% expressed interest in wellbeing sessions e.g. mindfulness, 67% would like to take part in arts and crafts, 60% in training opportunities and 53% in sports activities. We have also created a Facebook group called ‘ICOS Women’ where women can share information and find out information about any upcoming women’s group events. The group now has 124 female members.
This project helped to develop the skills needed for finding jobs in the UK through the English Language in the workplace course, IAG (Information, Advice and Guidance) provision on where and how to look for work and access to external training and volunteering.
We worked with 100 individuals and about 25% progressed into paid work or self-employment.
We have made a real difference in the lives of our clients; within LA7 round 4 (2018-2019), there was a 46% increase in English and Maths skills and a 36% in identifying strengths and weaknesses, as well as an 85% increase in knowledge of where to find job opportunities.
We worked with a challenging client group, providing support to refugees, victims of modern slavery and survivors of domestic abuse.
Wise Steps supported people in Tyne and Wear to transform their lives, with funding from the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund. The project provided one to one specialist support to those on the pathway to work. Round 1 has now ended and we have recruited a total of 64 individuals.
Our work focused on those from BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds, including victims of modern slavery, refugees and economic migrants.
The project ended in April 2019 Out of 64 clients, 24 found paid work and 9 started their own business, this means that about 40% of all clients found paid work. This cohort included refugees and victims of modern slavery. Many have also started volunteering, gained qualifications or started training and courses. Our clients’ financial situation improved by 52% and job-related skills by 30% between the day they started and the day they exited the programme. Basic skills, including English, improved by 29% on average.
In July 2019, we started phase 2 of the project (as we had been re-selected as a partner, following a good level of performance within phase 1). While not many clients have so far left the project, out of the 14 who have left by 07/09/2020, 5 achieved a job outcome.
We engaged with 35 individuals through 3 community events, focusing on community safety, discrimination and hate crime, exploitation and online safety. We mostly engaged on the Eastern European community in Sunderland and the surrounding area, providing space for two-way conversations between families and individuals, the police and the local authority, highlighting problems and solutions
The project improved the trust and mutual understanding between agencies responsible for the safety and policing and the Eastern European community.
We are focused on the Eastern European community in Sunderland and the surrounding area (but within the Northumbria Police force area), providing space for two-way conversations between families and individuals, the police and the local authority, highlighting problems and solutions
We also provided some individual support to victims of hate crime and referrals to appropriate organisations/support. From our evaluations (which have been answered by 26 of our beneficiaries) we have gathered that:
- 96% of beneficiaries have reported knowing more about community safety, hate crime and internet safety.
- 96% of beneficiaries have reported that they are more aware of how police work in the UK and support victims of crime.
- 96% of beneficiaries feel more confident to report crimes
- 92% would attend future events
- From our evaluations, we have found out that beneficiaries have learned new things about policing in the UK such as Internet scams and how to avoid them, how to contact police (101 and 999), how police deal with a hate crime, how to report it and what process it involves. ate services.
Together with Sunderland Bangladesh International Centre and Shiney Row Advice and Resource Project (SHARP), we worked to reduce social isolation, improve social cohesion/intercultural understanding and provide support with Universal Credit and other benefits. Sessions included volunteering, Islamic awareness and what is available in your local area.
This project was delivered through regular drop-ins and engaged over 80 individuals in the target area of Millfield, Sunderland. Over 20 progressed into training, 31 were prepared for Universal Credit and over 51 were involved in social activities.
In partnership with Groundwork North East & Cumbria and Bluewatch Youth Centre, we have delivered regular clean-ups end educational workshops in Millfield and St Michael’s (Backhouse Park area), Sunderland. ICOS engaged in excess of 200 volunteers, organised over 30 clean-ups, 8 educational workshops and gathered approximately 7.5 tons of refuse.
Approximately 2,700 hours of volunteering were delivered. This project was supported through Sunderland City Council’s East Area Committee
We have been commissioned by Groundwork North East & Cumbria to deliver educational activities and environmental engagement in Millfield and St Michael’s wards, Sunderland. More details to follow.
Working in partnership with Young Asian Voices and Sunderland Bangladesh Community Centre, as well as the Sunderland Black and Minority Ethnic Network Limited which coordinated the project, we provided advice, support, guidance and advocacy to minority ethnic people in the East Area of Sunderland, the North Area of Sunderland and Washington. The project focused on improving the health and wellbeing of BME people in the above-mentioned areas through provision of advice and activities. Until April 2019 (when the project ended), ICOS provided individual advice to 83 clients and the recruited 11 volunteers within the project.
The project supported clients to access a wide range of services, such as schools, housing and benefits, as it aimed at providing holistic and coordinated support to individuals in need, including access to training and applying for jobs. While this was not primarily an employment project, 6 clients secured paid employment through this project and 5 progressed into training or education.
We provided advice and advocacy, with emphasis on preventing problems/issues from escalating in areas such as contacting public services, finding out about local opportunities, rights at work and community safety. We also helped to fight discrimination and racism.
The project focused on Eastern Europeans living in Sunderland and the surrounding areas but no one is excluded if they live in the North East
Since May, we have started EESP 2 and have already supported almost 100 clients with issues such as access to benefits, job searching (including for those who currently have a job) and rights and responsibilities.
The project offered support to victims of hate crime and domestic violence, focusing on those from Eastern Europe, end enabling victims to:
- Victims feel more safe, secure and less socially isolated
- Victims are more likely to report a hate crime or domestic abuse
- Victims have better access to welfare benefits and services (one point of contact)
- Victims benefit from and improved financial situation
– we supported 24 victims out of the project target of 20.
-13 Victims of hate crime
-6 Victims of domestic violence (one of them had also been a victim of hate crime)
-5 Other victims with significant needs (victims of modern slavery)
Additionally, we are also worked on checking the extent of hate crime and domestic violence and the effects of it on the Eastern European community.
CH-ESOL- Children’s ESOL (for Health)
25 children have successfully taken part in regular creative language sessions through this project. We engaged with children from a variety of backgrounds.
Through this project ethnic and minority, families had an opportunity to improve their much needed and important knowledge about common health issues of their children. The project also helped parents to improve their language and vocabulary skills related to health and wellbeing. Please see more information attached: chesol leaflet 12 page (003)
This project concentrated on targeting residents in the above-mentioned wards, where there was a high incidence of fuel poverty and raising awareness of energy saving.
We run 20 instead information and engagement sessions, including one large community event (as we “converted” for workshops into one larger event in order to ensure economies of scale, this change also enabled us to purchase items such as LED bulbs in order to provide beneficiaries with energy-saving kits, so that we were able to inspire them to make long-lasting changes). This event proved extremely successful and attracted over 40 beneficiaries, including families.
Altogether, the 20 sessions and engaged 83 beneficiaries (total number of individuals, some benefitted from more than one part of the project).
3 Staff members and 2 sessional workers took part in delivering the project. The project engaged 6 volunteers, including 5 community champion.
Additionally, out of 83 beneficiaries, 26 were registered for PRS (Priority Services Register), allowing for easier communication between
Although most of the beneficiaries were clients supported through workshops, we have also provided some one-to-one support to clients.
The project was delivered in partnership with Enviro UK environmental consultancy and St Mark’s Community Association.
The Meet Your Neighbour Festival was a cultural It was a project that enabled local communities to celebrate what contributions migrants from different countries of Eastern Europe have made to the local area while presenting the cultures of the countries they were born in.
While the festival took place over the week of the 22nd to 27th May 2017, we run preparatory workshops and regular Steering Group Meetings between October 2016 and May 2017.
Project benefits/ Outcomes
This project’s aim was to bring people from diverse cultures/backgrounds to celebrate their differences, to improve social cohesion and reduce tension, including social isolation.
At the planning stage, ICOS estimated that 12 volunteers and 500 recipients would benefit.
We have exceeded the above targets with over 1500 individuals visiting the museum exhibition alone and 26 volunteers taking part in the project.
The project timeline
- October -November 2016 – forming of the steering group; engagement with local groups, voluntary sector, public agencies, and partner organisations
- December 2016 – March 2017 – recruiting volunteers; engagement with community artists and project beneficiaries; development of sessions, including creative writing, painting, photography
- March-May 2017 – Final developments; sessions completion; festival publicity ready and distributed
- May 2017 – Festival taking place
- June 2017 – Post Festival feedback, learning and evaluation activities]
The fine art exhibition took place at the Independent (27-28 Holmeside, Sunderland), with official opening night on the 22nd May 2017, unveiled by Sunderland City of Culture Bid director Rebecca Ball. An approximate number of 60 guests attended on the night. The exhibition was available to public view until Friday, 26th May 2017, with a steady number of about 20 visitors per each day.
The Mayor of Sunderland opened the Family Festival Day which took place in Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens on the 27th May 2017. A number of visitors attended this event on the day and confirmed by a cultural officer of the Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens was 1,169.
Following the Family Day, the live music event was held at the Independent at the evening of the 27th May 2017. Approximately 80 visitors and guests attended this event.
Engagement numbers in communities in preparation toward the festival were as follows:
- Jubilate Community Choir
- St. Anthony’s Girls’ Catholic Academy (senior Choir)
- Hudson Road Primary School (Nursery and Year 5)
- Pottery workshops at National Glass Centre (15 participants)
- Other community engagements, including local artists and musicians; Flower Club; Polish Food Shop; University of Sunderland; Student Union; Polish Saturday School; Slovak Embassy London; general public (exact numbers unknown)
Festival Sponsors: Big Lottery Fund; Sunderland City Council; The Embassy of Slovak Republic; Sunderland City of Culture Bid 2021; Bishopwearmouth Co-Operative; Independent; Polish Saturday School; University of Sunderland; Blue Wings Records; local artists: Zagdan Art, A.G. Art, Klaudia Malolepsza, Aneta Halubiec
Meet Your Neighbour Festival resources you can watch/see:
- You can see the photos via the link http://icos-photoalbum.000webhostapp.com/
- You can watch the films via the link https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF95lmgBGIuBqdZvwh3-hDg
Based on 4 themes: generating, reducing, managing and purchasing energy, we delivered 2 workshops per theme, which ended at the end of November 2016. Reaching over 220 people, the workshops included various types of creative activities, environmental events, and formal and informal discussions.
This project included 5 language taster sessions, a celebration of heritage and connection to other cultures and countries, food tasting; music, arts and crafts, presentations, and stalls about different cultures. This was found to be a success through the feedback received from questionnaires completed by those who attended.
Working with those both employed and those unemployed, this project was successful as all those who participated progressed in their work situations, whether that meant finding employment or changing to a better job. We worked with a variety of clients, some of which included victims of modern slavery, providing the best advice we had at hand, and going the extra mile to support those in need.
Exceeding our target of engaging with 25 members of the BME community, we supported over 35 individuals from the East of Sunderland area on mental wellbeing. This was a successful project due to the positive feedback shown in our preliminary evaluation results. Due to this, there is now a Polish football club that takes place every Saturday for those who suffer from mental health.
Supporting over 70 people, all participants finished the course. This was successful as most of those part of the course came from BME backgrounds, where English was their second (or more) language, and everyone was recruited.
ICOS supported exceeded 57 clients, exceeding the target of 50, while the vast majority of clients either partly or fully achieved the target aim. 31.5% of them (18) found a job, while we also enabled 23 (40.4%) beneficiaries to progress into either level 2 learning or further education. 5 clients were over 50 and 9 were under 25. A number were refugees. The project provided one to one advice and employability support, including job searching and filling –in job applications, as well as access to training.
The Ready, Steady, Go project was funded through the grant “Sported”.. We exceeded our target of working with 45 people and enabled diverse communities, such as Polish and Bangladeshi to come and work together.
Targeting those both employed and unemployed, ICOS supported the BME community in the eligible postcodes to develop their skills through gaining accredited and informal qualifications. Our original target of 40 clients was exceeded by an extra 18 people. 16 clients progressed into volunteering, 15 clients acquired a level 1 qualification, 5 clients acquired a level 2 qualification.
This project served the purpose of engaging minority and ethnic people in sports activities and through it, improving their well-being. The sessions included Archery, Climbing, Golf and Tennis and were very well attended. More than 30 participants attended overall, which each event attended by an average of 20 people. 5 volunteers gained extra skills through this project. This project was supported by Sunderland City Council through its Sunderland 2012 grant scheme. 22 clients entered an informal English Class, and 12 clients progressed with their employment.
In partnership with SIDE CIC,we engaged with 15 minority ethnic people through the Memories Cafe project. This project aimed to improve well-being through learning new skills, overcoming cultural barriers, improving self-confidence and developing an interest in creative activities (e.g. creative writing and collage).
The aim of this project was to provide advice and support to those who smoked and those who wanted to quit. The sessions were available in English, Polish and Slovak so that we could reach a wider clientele. From start to finish, we successfully gave advice and support to 120 people, which included people from challenging backgrounds and the BME community. We were also the only organisation in Sunderland to provide smoking cessation advice and support for those who cannot leave their house. Moreover, we have exceeded the local average quit rate (48% of our users quit as opposed about 43% averages for Tyne and Wear). We currently provide this service for Sunderland’s and Gateshead’s Public Health associations.
This is an ongoing project which ICOS has tried hard to succeed in in all areas. Often, we are able to provide the best results and outcomes for our clients, most of which are part of the BME network or are from challenging backgrounds. This project includes:
- Helping recent arrivals in the UK with a range of issues in written, spoken, and online matters (school admission forms, housing forms) and correspondence
- Supporting clients access welfare benefits, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Working Tax Credit, and Social Security Tribunal cases
- Appointments in banks, and the opening of new bank accounts
- Basic online and computer literacy support, as well as creating emails and online forms
- Liaising with respective MP’s with regards to issues that cannot be communicated due to language barriers
- Communicating with HMRC in regards to client’s issues
- Finding and helping to apply for grants and government/local council schemes
- Providing One Planet Living advice, such as in workshops and one-to-one meetings with the general public and the BME community
- Helping clients change their energy suppliers and providing energy advice
- Helping provide advice and guidance to those in the BME network who have suffered from racial abuse of any sort
- Guiding the minority and ethnic community with their lives in the UK, be it with job applications or finding classes and/or accreditations for them to succeed with living in the North East
We have worked with over 2000 individuals and handled more than 5000 cases, many fairly simple matters, but some regarding serious, complex, and formal guidance. ICOS has many success stories, such as in a case where we helped a client win over £4500 in overdue Tax Credit. The client spoke limited English and was on a very low income.
Through our work, we have established links with partner agencies, such as advice providers, Jobcentre Plus, HMRC, and employment agencies. We are an active member of the Economic Inclusion Subgroup of the Regional Migration Forum, hosted by the Association of North Eastern Councils (ANEC). The inclusion part of our work has been the core of what we stand and work for. We have never had direct funding to support this service; however, we have had funding for ICOS’s core costs on the basis that we provided such services. The funders included Sir James Knott Trust and Sherburn Hospital, as well as Trusthouse and Woodward Charitable Trust.