Carers charity is given helping hand

Andrew White and Sandi Downing.
Andrew White and Sandi Downing.

A south east Northumberland charity with plans to start its own business has been given a guiding hand by a pioneering project.

SkillsBridge matches volunteers from the private and public sector with medium-sized charities and social enterprises who could benefit from their expertise, and it has been hailed by the government as a model of best practice.

Now it has lent its expertise to Ashington-based Carers Northumberland, which supports around 1,800 people who are currently providing unpaid care for a family member or friend.

Largely reliant on grant funding, the charity approached SkillsBridge in the hope of accessing advice on setting up a trading arm to generate a sustainable income stream.

Carers Northumberland’s chief executive officer, Sandi Downing, said: “In the current climate I didn’t feel it was a good idea to be entirely reliant on grants.

“However, it’s one thing wanting to set up a trading arm and another knowing how to go about it.

“We’re a charity and setting up a small business requires a set of skills and information that we simply didn’t have.

“There are so many professed experts out there who offer to help but it can be hard to know which one is right for you – what we needed was help from someone who’d done it.”

SkillsBridge is now calling on more companies to get involved. To find out more call (0191) 275 5059 or email