Northern Rock Foundation awards £2.6m

Projects in north-east England and Cumbria to benefit

The Northern Rock Foundation has announced 26 grants totalling £2.6m in its first funding round of 2009.

Most of the grants are for projects that tackle disadvantage across north-east England and Cumbria.

Tyneside Cyrenians received the largest award of £239,000 for a new day centre in Gateshead for people with alcohol dependency.

The foundation will give more than £11m in total this year, which is slightly up on last year's figure of £10.5m. It is, however, considerably down on the £31.3m it awarded in 2006 before Northern Rock went into public ownership.

The foundation will receive a minimum of £15m a year in 2008, 2009 and 2010 as part of the arrangement under which Northern Rock was taken into public ownership. Anyone who buys the bank during this period will have to honour this.

Rob Williamson, director of policy and communications at the foundation, said it had chosen not to spend all of its £15m this year or last year in order to build up reserves, which now total £25m. It will therefore be able to continue operating if no new funding is secured after 2010.

"The trustees have chosen to set some money aside," said Williamson. "They would be able to apply it to further grant-making after 2010 should they wish."

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