Supporting communities since 1976
We established the Banks Community Fund in 1997, but have been supporting communities since we started operations back in 1976. Since then we are proud to have supported hundreds of charitable and environmental causes by working in partnership with communities close to our developments to deliver long lasting positive change that makes a real difference to peoples lives.
Our funds are reviewed by a funding panel, including representatives of the local community and administered by the County Durham Community Foundation. This is fundamental to an approach we adopt throughout our business called development with care.
Community Fund in numbers
Over £7,500,000 has been awarded to local community groups
23 funds across the north of England and Scotland
Cost of living crisis
£60k donated to the County Durham Community Foundation Poverty Hurts appeal
Supporting local communities
£1.5 million awarded to community groups throughout Co Durham
£115,000 raised by staff for nominated charities since 2008
Community groups we’ve supported
The grant has allowed us to cater for an even wider range of the community as we have more space and better equipment, we have had various groups using the facility now helping improve their health, fitness and well-being. Every member has improved their fitness and benefit from a healthier lifestyle.
The impact has been massive as it is allowing us to provide more sessions, therefore, making the club more sustainable. We now appeal to even more members of the community.
The boxing team itself has and will continue to improve massively from the new equipment as it will help hone and improve all their skills.
We cannot thank the staff at Banks Community Fund enough!
Mark Dowdall, environment, and community director for The Banks Group, which has donated £65,000 to the Poverty Hurts Appeal, said: “As a family owned, County Durham based business, The Banks Group has a development with care approach. We believe that the communities which host our developments should benefit from them.
“In short, we believe in giving back to the communities we serve. That is why we donated to the Poverty Hurts appeal. This appeal will support many families in County Durham in winter months. One in three children in our region live in poverty, and many elderly people will endure fuel poverty this winter. But it doesn’t have to be like this – there is a lot we can do to change this and supporting the appeal is one of them.”
One of the groups supported through The Banks Group are Café JJ who were awarded £1,000 towards rental costs.
Café JJ is a well-established Café based in Darlington offering work experience to adults with learning disabilities.
Food and friendship are always on the menu at Café JJ. The Darlington eatery feeds 90 loyal patrons every Tuesday and supports 11 people with learning disabilities to run the café, which is based at Clifton Community Centre. The grant not only made a difference to the lives of the 11 disabled people supported but also the 65 – 90 members of the community who visit the café every Tuesday.
Banks Community Fund supported South Shields Cricket Club with £4,250 towards ground equipment for the club.
A parent of one of the children who attends South Shields Cricket Club said: “The arrival of the new equipment greatly increased the capacity for our juniors to practice and play games, including summer camps six hours a day for three days a week during the summer holidays. Without the new equipment, this simply would not have been possible.
My daughter has taken to cricket so much since joining the club she asked to go watch The Hundred Tournament so as a family we have been to Leeds and Manchester to see the Northern Super Chargers men and women play.”
A grant of £10,000 was awarded to Beamish Museum towards the 1950s exhibition.
This is an impressive and ambitious project which will leave a lasting legacy for the North East, funding supported the capital costs of re-building the community hall. Visitors are now able to learn about the important role that community halls played in North East town and village life long into the future. The hall is now a permanent part of the museum’s offer – and a valuable resource for the community and for learning activities.
The grant enabled local people to have access to electricity, household services and use as a base for work. This enabled them to live a normal daily life – accessing warm space and food, providing clean clothes and healthy food for their families.
This has been the difference between the winter months affecting people’s mental health and physical health. It has also prevented people from losing income from self-employed work or being unable to work for employers.
We now know that we can provide good quality provision in the face of an emergency. It was satisfying knowing that we could use our resources to really help people in their time of need.
The history of the Banks Community Fund
First community fund started
Our first “unofficial” community fund was started – every tonne of coal we mined, we’d put 10p into a fund for the communities near our sites, with local liaison group agreeing how to spend the money on improving the local area. We made this commitment to our own community and to all the local communities surrounding our projects.
Back in the seventies, our CEO Harry Banks, agreed that if every pub in Tow Law had a collecting tin on the bar for local community causes, he would donate a pound to match every pound that was put into it. We also sent round a pickup truck delivering free coal to pensioners in Tow Law for Christmas and we laid on parties for the elderly through the community association.
Sponsorship of Durham County Cricket Club starts
Our partnership with the Durham County Cricket Board, began in 1989, with our sponsorship enabling the board to set up and run the Durham Conty under 19 team.
Since 2006, the sponsorship has helped to cover the costs of the winter player pathway courses with £12,000 being donated annually, equating to over £150,000. Today, the primary focus is the County Age groups including both girls and boys squads.
Founding member of the County Durham Foundation
Founding member of the County Durham Foundation (now know as the County Durham Community Foundation). A £25,000 fund was set up to help worthy causes in our home county of Durham. We have always felt a responsibility in looking after our communities and the CDCF has allowed us to support a wide range of different needs and causes. We would like to thank the CDCF for all their hard work over the last 25 years.
£4,372 in community funds distributed
A total of £4,372 was distributed to groups throughout the year including £1,500 to the Teddy Bear Club to purchase new play mats and soft play.
“The priority of the Banks Community Fund is to support projects that promote inclusion, improve local facilities and create environmental benefits – leaving positive legacy in the communities we work in” Mark Dowdall, Environmental & Community Director.
Over £230,000 community grants awarded
Over £230,000 was awarded to charitable and community groups throughout the year including £7,000 to help fund the installation of an inner wall at the Scout Hut for the 19th Durham Scouts. *Do we have a quote from the news article to insert?* if not then below can be added……
Throughout the year our incredible team raised £10,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support who were our nominated charity of the year, with team members taking part in a variety of sponsored events, including the Great North Run.
Banks support the inaugural Lumiere
We supported the First Lumiere in Durham City and have since supported a series of permanent, public artworks supported through the Banks Community fund.
Tobie Langel’s witty and unusual civic clock, Helvetictoc, which is sited on the wall above the city’s Library and was our first permanent Lumiere gift to the Durham community.
Lightbench by Bernd Spiecker for LBO-Lichtbankobjekte (Germany) is now installed in the new Freeman’s Quay development.
Heron, an illuminated silver homage to one of England’s most magnificent birds was created by artist Jon Voss and debuted successfully at the 2017 Lumiere Durham festival and remains a permanent public sculpture on the banks of the River Wear next to Millburngate bridge.
£285,500 grants awarded in 2015
Over £285,000 awarded throughout the year including £3,000 to Hickleton Village Hall for roof repairs and £5,000 towards picnic benches and kitchen equipment to the Land Restoration Trust.
The Ellington Allotment Association received a £750 grant from the Banks Community Fund to purchase three high quality wooden benches placed around the site.
“As a relatively new organisation, we don’t have the money in the bank available at the moment to make purchases like these benches, so we’re very grateful to the Banks Group for their support and know they will be very well used.” Susan Clarke, Secretary and Treasurer.
Over £700,000 grants awarded in 2016
Over £700,000 was distributed throughout the year including – The Foundation of light who were gifted £50,000 for their classroom fit outs at the newly built Beacon of Light.
Darlington Civic Theatre were granted £27,500 for general repair and restoration whilst Belmont Community Centre received £23,000 towards a community kitchen.
The Teeside based charity Daisy Chain who work with Children with Autism received a £5,570 grant to purchase a high tech greenhouse and heat mat that was used by its students to learn new skills and grow their own produce. The funding also covered the cost of making repairs to the charity’s duck pond to both ensure it was safe for the children to use and that the ducks and fish that live there are well protected.
The Bee Happy Craft Group in West Lothian received a grant of £2,500 to enable their sessions for members to continue. “Banks have been fantastic to deal with and very helpful along the way – and their fund is making a real difference in the local area.” Jill Stewart
Over £350,000 community fund grants awarded in 2017
Over £350,000 awarded in grants throughout the year including – Durham County Cricket Foundation gifted £30,000 towards Nursery ground development and a £4,200 grant to Newbiggin Community Boxing Club towards improving facilities. Easington Colliery Brass Band was also awarded a grant of £3,000 towards replacing old instruments.
“The response we’ve had from around the region has been terrific, and generous donations like the one we’ve just received from the Banks Group give us the platform we need to secure a sustainable future for the band”. Peter Lawson, Easington Colliery Brass Band Secretary.
Over £400,000 community fund grants awarded in 2020
Over £400,000 awarded throughout the year including a £20,000 grant awarded to Durham Cathedral to support the Galilee Chapel Project.
“At almost 890 years old, Durham Cathedral requires constant management to preserve this magnificent historic building and ensure it remains safe and accessible for all our community to enjoy.
Our closure due to the pandemic had a very significant impact on the cathedral’s finances, but the costs of maintaining the building have not gone away.
“It can be difficult to secure funding for essential projects like this which don’t necessarily catch the public eye, but The Banks Group have been extremely responsive to our needs and it would have been challenging to deliver these works without their generous support.” The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham
We have been a long-term supporter of Durham Cathedral, with a previous £10,000 Banks Community Fund grant supporting the installation of fully-automated doors between the Undercroft Foyer and the cathedral’s restaurant.
Over £500,000 community fund grants awarded in 2022
Over £500,000 awarded throughout the year including a grant of £10,000 to Beamish Museum to provide equipment and lighting for the 1950’s Aged Miners Homes.
“Securing the support of regional businesses like The Banks Group is central to the success of our development plans, and we’re really looking forward to being able to welcome visitors” Lisa Kaimenas, Remaking Beamish Project Officer – Community Participation
We are a long-term supporter of Beamish, with a £22,000 grant provided in 2018 supporting the re-creation of a 1950s County Durham welfare hall as part of the Remaking Beamish project and previous grants totalling £17,000 providing a banner display case for the Hetton Silver Band project and helping to establish an authentic colliery lamp cabin within the museum’s mining exhibit.
£60,000 donated to the Poverty Hurts Appeal.
Over the course of the year, £60,000 was donated to the County Durham Community Foundation’s Poverty Hurts Appeal. This incredible campaign came very close to achieving its ambitious target of raising £1 million throughout the year and gained support from many local business and individuals.
Grants awarded from this appeal help those local individuals and groups who are facing extreme hardship because of the cost of living crisis and the appeal has currently supported over 33,277 people.
Can I apply for funding?
The Banks Community Fund (which is actually made up of a number of funds) provides support to community groups, voluntary organisations and environmental projects that are charitable, educational, philanthropic or benevolent in purpose and which are located within close proximity of a current or proposed Banks Group development and provide benefit to the local community.
Our funds are reviewed by a funding panel, including representatives of the local community. The Banks Community Fund is administered by the County Durham Community Foundation (CDCF).
Before applying for a grant
Applicants MUST contact The Banks Community Fund, fund manager at the CDCF, before applying for a grant. Tel 0191 378 6342 or email email@example.com
Take a look at the map below to find out if your community group could be eligible for funding.
Meet the team
Community relations manager
“The role of community relations manager is one that I truly love. Having the opportunity to get out into the communities we work in and help the superhero’s who are fighting and doing all they can to improve said community is inspiring to me. Being able to speak to people directly and find out what they need and how we can help as a business is another bonus. Development with care really is at the heart of my job and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Fund manager at the County Durham Community Foundation
“My role involves managing the distribution of grants from a number of funds including Banks Family Funds, Banks Corporate Funds and Banks Renewables Funds. I love working with local groups, watching a project through from start to finish and seeing the difference the funding makes to the local areas and local people.”
Community relations manager
“My role is to ensure residents and stakeholders are consulted with, and involved in, the development of any Banks project. I am keen that people’s voices are heard and that wherever possible we take their views into consideration when developing our plans. We have a long history of and are committed to maximising the benefits of our developments for both new and existing communities, something that has always been and will remain at the heart of everything we do.”