Funding for our communities

We see it as our responsibility to build more than just the homes people live in. We want to build and support communities which can build successful lives.

Introducing iFund

Our partners at Isos Housing are delivering a new strategic approach to community investment – known as the iFund. This sees our community involvement officers charged with submitting potential projects to a panel of Isos and Cestria tenants for their consideration.

Isos has a region wide team dedicated to delivering initiatives which make a real difference to people’s lives. The team is a key supporter of community projects in Chester-le-Street and in some of the most disadvantaged communities in the North East.

Once funding for projects comes to an end Isos and Cestria can also help organisations secure continued investment from other funders to help keep the valuable services they offer running.

How iFund can help

Foundation of Light supporting Cestria projects

Cestira has a close relationship with Sunderland Football Club’s Foundation of Light – running courses to help families and adults become ‘work-ready’.

The projects that qualify for funding vary considerably, projects could be:

  • An employability project working with people to find employment which will in turn enable them to pay their rent
  • A project working with young people either helping with employment, education and training or providing diversionary activities to reduce complaints or anti-social behaviour
  • Working with people who are currently digitally excluded helping them to access online services. For example, setting up direct debits or paying bills, or accessing websites
  • A project working with people who have experienced mental health issues to help and support them as they gain confidence and improve their health and wellbeing.

How it works

The iFund panel meets three times a year, with a ceiling of £15,000 for any one project.

Isos works in 11 local authority areas across the North East, and within those areas wards recognised as having priority needs have been identified. It is here that community investment will be largely, but not exclusively, concentrated.

Armed with data on topics such as employment rates and educational attainment, schemes can be identified to address areas of need, working in consultation with the local community and often alongside other housing providers.

As not-for-profit housing associations, Isos and Cestria have to ensure that any work delivers value for money, and that community projects not only help individuals, but also help protect our income. This helps to ensure we can keep supporting this type of work in the future.

We also seek out projects which attract match funding, involve our tenants, offer a clear community benefit, and offer a realistic exit strategy for our involvement.

Alongside establishing what’s needed in the communities Isos and Cestria serves, our officers are also asked to check certain 'core criteria' for each project. You can read more about this by downloading the iFund Applicant’s Guidance Pack in the related information section of this page.

Can I apply for funding?

Community and voluntary organisations are welcome to approach the Community Investment team with project proposals. All proposals will be assessed against the core criteria of iFund and whether they demonstrate that a grant will directly benefit a community where the Isos and Cestria has homes.

If your project does not satisfy iFund’s core criteria, the team will direct you to our iSearch service.

Launched just last year to help organisations access possible funding streams, iSearch sessions give local groups and charities temporary access to GRANTfinder, an extensive grants and funding information database. The database has over 8,000 funding opportunities which can help smaller organisations get their projects off the ground.

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