Past Projects

Community Connectors

During 2018/2019 International Community Orgnaisation of Sunderland (ICOS) and Sunderland
Bangladeshi International Centre (SBIC) worked together with SHARP to deliver ‘Community
Connectors’ which was supported by Sunderland City Council, the project has focused on reducing
social isolation and raising awareness of Universal Credit in the Millfield Area.

Community Connectors aimed at improving social cohesion through enabling individuals and families
to come together, 60 individuals from Millfield have benefited from the project and we have ran 24
sessions about Universal Credit support, local support services, volunteering opportunities, Islamic
awareness and also organised an opportunities for women event, where over 30 women attended
from different backgrounds and cultures. These sessions contributed to reducing social isolation by
proving group and one-to-one basis support. Interventions included support with setting up and
maintaining Universal Credit accounts, help with issues related to other benefits, directing
individuals into appropriate services and support with gaining training or qualifications and
As a part of community connectors we have set up accredited training for women which was Level 1
in Health and Social Care, we’ve had 10 beneficiaries attend the course and the sessions have been
individually tailored to their specific needs taking into account language barrier in order to achieve
their goals. The participants have also completed a Level 2 in Business Administration, this has been
an amazing opportunity for everyone to gain new skills for future employment opportunities.
Overall, through working closely in partnership within the three organisations delivering the project
and with others in the area, the project has been a success, as it allowed us to break down barriers
between different communities and it allowed the community to access multiple types of support.

Police and Crime Commissioner 2018/2019 –Community Safety Workshops

International Community Organisation of Sunderland delivered a community safety project
(supported by Police and Crime Commissioner Fund) between November 2018 and February 2019,
the project focused on delivering three workshops which have benefited 35 individuals.
The first event took place on the 6 th of November 2018, this workshop focused on community safety.
The topics discussed included discrimination at work, how police deal with cars being set on fire,
issues with fireworks, the use of private CCTV’s, driving without valid car insurance and the use of
emergency and non-emergency numbers.
Our second event happened on 19 th of January 2019, which focused on hate crime and
discrimination, at this event there has been a lot of discussion over if police in the North East are
prepared for Brexit as it concerned the Eastern European community in Sunderland, what is classed
as hate crime or discrimination and what process of investigation it involves.
Our final event took place on 5 th of February 2019 which was safer internet day and at this session
we have focused on internet safety and keeping children safe online. The topics at the meeting also
covered online bullying, hacking, internet scams and how to avoid them.
At every event a speaker from the police has attended, which was a great opportunity to ask
relevant questions and to find out more about community policing in the UK.
From our evaluations we have gathered that:
 96% beneficiaries have reported of knowing more about community safety, hate crime and
internet safety after our workshops.
 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 our 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 deals with hate crime, how to report it and what process it

The Police Commissioner Fund Tyne and Wear & Northumberland (2016-2017)

The project offered support to: victims of hate crime and domestic violence, focusing on those from Eastern Europe, end enabling victims to:

  1. Victims feel more safe, secure and less socially isolated
  2. Victims are more likely to report hate crime or domestic abuse
  3. Victims have better access to welfare benefits and services (one point of contact)
  4. Victims benefit from and improved financial situation

– we supported 24 victims out of the project target of 20.

This included

-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.

The Children’s Foundation Newcastle upon Tyne Small Grants (2017)

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)

Northern Powergrid Community Energy Seed Fund- Millfield and Pallion Engagement (2017 – 2018). The grant was channelled by Tyne and Wear Community Foundation.

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 longer 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.




East Area Community Connectors: Reducing Social Isolation (2017 – 2018, funded by the East Area Committee, Sunderland City Council).

 This project was instrumental in breaking down barriers between different communities through intercultural engagement and sessions on culture, language and religion of different countries and areas. Session included Ethiopia, Islam, Poland, Slovakia, Taiwan and Italy. There were two events, held in October 2017 (European Day of Languages) and March 2018, altogether bringing over 220 people from different/diverse cultures. The project also encouraged volunteering and social action, engaging a total of 30 volunteers.



Meet Your Neighbour festival (Big Lottery – Celebrate!) Grant 2016 – 2017

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. Approximate number of 60 guests attended on the night. The exhibition was available to public view until Friday, 26th May 2017, with 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. Number of visitors attended this event on the day and confirmed by 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

  • You can watch the films via the link



Northern Powergrid Community Energy Small Grant (2016)

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.



Sunderland City Council, grant for European Day of Languages (24/09/2016)

This project included 5 language taster sessions, 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.



Linden Fund at Tyne and Wear Community Foundation (2015-2016)

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.




Mental health awareness work on behalf of Sunderland City Council (East Area Committee), April and May 2015 

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 with mental health.



Northern Powergrid Community Energy (Community Foundation) Small Grants (2015)

Supporting over 70 people, all participants finished the course. This was successful as most of the those part of the course came from BME backgrounds, where English was their second (or more) language, and everyone was recruited.



North East ESF Small Grants Scheme (2014-2015)

Exceeding the regional average of 15% of clients from this scheme becoming employed, we reached 50% of those in the North East. ICOS worked with different clients from different challenging backgrounds, such as migrants to refugees. This is one of our successes that led to ICOS winning the ‘BME One Voice Employment Contribution Award for Sunderland’, which was awarded by the Sunderland BME Network.



Sport Volunteering and skills- we engaged over 50 young BME people in volunteering and building skills through sports. (August 2012 – August 2013)

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.



Coalfields Regeneration Trust – Small Grants, 1 year (2012-2013)

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,



We organised a series of sport activities to commemorate the London 2012 Olympics (June – July 2012)

This project served the purpose of engaging minority and ethnic people in sport 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.




Memories Cafe (2011) 

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).



Free smoking cessation drop-in (2011 to 2016) 

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.



Since June 2010, we have been delivering Information, Advice, Guidance and Advocacy

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 clients 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 300 individuals, and handled more than 600 cases, many fairly simple matters, but some regarding serious, complex, and formal guidance. ICOS have 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. ICOS is becoming a more and more sustainable organisation.