Byline: Iain Laing
THREE of the most promising social enterprises in the North East have won a total of pounds 95,000 to realise their expansion plans.
The winners of the Santander Social Enterprise Development Awards have been given the prize money to bring to life their ambitions to advance their communities.
Santander has picked the cream of the region's social enterprises, not-for-profit businesses, and all of the winners will help to create employment and support those in need. The winners were Trust in the North, which is based in Northumberland, the Rising Sun Farm Trust in North Tyneside and Hextol in Hexham.
Trust in the North, a community organisation in South East Northumberland, has been awarded pounds 50,000 award. It will use the award money to buy new equipment and to boost the community organisation's sales expertise for its successful confectionery business, Kenspeckle.
Trust in the North works to support disadvantaged people in the village of Lynemouth, South East Northumberland.
It is the trading arm of the Lynemouth Community Trust and runs Kenspeckle and the Beehive Cafe and Resource Centre. It will use the money to expand its work and this, in turn, will grow its staff from three to nine over the next two years.
Andrew Gooding, manager of Trust in the North, said: "We are really proud of what we have achieved so far with Kenspeckle, but there is so much more we want to do.
"The award from Santander and the relationship we hope to build with them will enable us to build new markets, grow our business and, most importantly, employ and train more local people."
Lynemouth Community Trust was established in 1999 to provide training and find jobs for residents following the decline of the area's mining industry, and it has grown ever since, changing the lives of many local people. After winning backing from groups including the Northern Rock Foundation and Northumberland County Council, it bought and restored a former Lynemouth hotel and transformed it into Lynemouth Community Resource Centre.
The centre acts as a hub for the village of Lynemouth, housing an information technology suite through which the trust delivers skills training, and providing office and meeting spaces for fellow third sector organisations.
Its trading arm, Trust in the North, not only runs the cafe but also Kenspeckle - an online confectionery shop which produces a range of locally-inspired chocolate and fudge creations. The Kenspeckle brand was created to generate further income for the Trust and has become a popular product at local farmers' markets and delicatessens.
Craig Iley, Santander Corporate Banking regional director and chair of the judging panel, said: "The judges were delighted to grant the biggest of the three awards to Trust in the North.
"The panel recognised that the organisation has made strides in building local economic opportunities in South East Northumberland. The judges are looking forward to seeing the growth of its confectionery business supported through the Santander Award." The Rising Sun Farm Trust, in North Tyneside, has been awarded the pounds 30,000 prize. The trust manages the 175-acre organic farm in the Rising Sun Country Park.
It runs a number of community initiatives, including preserving the estate for walkers and cyclists, educating local people about farming and environmental issues, and housing a day centre for people with learning disabilities, which is operated by North Tyneside Social Services.
The money will go towards building new stables at the farm and be invested in improving other buildings on the estate in order to provide more social services.
Margaret Hall, chairperson of Rising Sun Farm Trust, said: "Thanks to this Santander Award we are able to look to the future, to develop our livery yard and invest in the work of the Rising Sun Organic Farm. …