Fundraising: Northern Rock Foundation gives £3.4m to communities

The Northern Rock Foundation has donated £3.4m to community groups in the north-east and Cumbria.

The grants, announced on March 21, will fund a new lighting scheme for the Queen Elizabeth II bridge, which carries the metro line between Newcastle and Gateshead, the redevelopment of the headquarters of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and a volunteering plan for the elderly.

Leo Finn, chairman of the NRF, said: "These grants will help tackle disadvantage in local communities and improve the quality of life in our region as a whole."

The foundation spent £25.5m on the region in 2004, and plans to spend a total of £19m this year. Rob Williamson, NRF assistant director of policy and communications, said: "This is not a cut in funding. We spent £17.3m on normal grant funding last year, and £8.2m on special programmes tackling violence and re-offending. Our regular grant budget has actually increased."

FACT FILE

- £180,000 to the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle-upon-Tyne

- £100,000 for a new lighting scheme for the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge

- £99,000 to support the Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme.

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