Together Middlesbrough & Cleveland (TM&C) – reflecting on the end of a successful and collaborative chapter

Yasmin Jiang

30th April 2021

For almost a decade now, faith-based charity Together Middlesbrough & Cleveland (TM&C) has been tackling a wide range of social issues including loneliness, homelessness, food inequality and other life-challenges faced by children and families. Working in one of the most income-deprived areas in the country, TM&C is dedicated to bridging gaps  in social provision through a range of community-based projects, and to achieving enhanced social justice and poverty reduction.

We first started working with TM&C in August 2020, when Covid-19 posed challenges that threatened all civil society organisations. Over eight month period, we supported the organisation in key areas, and, in the words of the Chief Officer, had a “transformational” effect:

“With CSC as a lifeline, we enter 2021 in a much stronger financial and strategic position.”

Kate Jeffels,  Chief Officer

We raised over £120,000 for the charity from three funders including the Allchurches Trust, National Lottery and Power to Change. We’re now reflecting on the end of this successful and collaborative chapter working together! Below is a run-down of how we have supported TM&C:

Communications support

During the pandemic, online communication became more important than ever for organisations in our sector. We upskilled TM&C staff members in communications and social media, ran two workshops with the team to develop an organisational communication strategy, and helped them to find a well-suited freelancer to make sure it’s delivered. Drawing on each team member’s expertise and strengths, we created an actionable plan drawing on TM&C’s overall ‘communication capital’. 

Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland Covid-19 Impact Report

The CSC team surveyed 45 organisations in Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland to understand the effects of Covid-19 on civil society organisations. The report details responses to the pandemic from local organisations and puts forward ideas to stimulate future collaborations so that TM&C can develop a community-wide recovery strategy and develop its potential infrastructure role.. 

Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland Covid-19 Impact Report: spotlight on civil society organisations supporting ethnic minority and newly arrived communities

TM&C had a clear goal of bolster its ethnic minority engagement and interfaith work from the very start of our work with them. We helped them to recruit a Community Engagement Officer to develop better connections with ethnic minority and newly arrived communities in Middlesbrough. 

Also, we produced a stand-alone report on their experience of the pandemic, recognising their unique role supporting ethnic minority communities in the region. We found that organisations had generally seen a huge demand in services, and have adapted their services to meet the needs of the community during this time. Organisations saw their efforts towards tackling food insecurity as effective, but wanted to see more investment into projects mitigating loneliness and social isolation. Together Middlesbrough & Cleveland are now spearheading several focused initiatives designed to tackle racial injustice locally and have set up a Multi-Cultural Forum.

CSC presenting the Middlesbrough COVID-19 Impact on Ethnic Minority and Newly Arrived Communities Report to Middlesbrough Multi-cultural Forum

2020 Organisational Impact Report – Flourishing Lives & Communities

Lastly, we reviewed the impact and key activities of TM&C during 2020, with a particular focus on how the organisation supported the communities during the pandemic. The report highlighted the successes of key programmes including ‘Feast of Fun’, which provided holiday activities and food to over 11,400 children and their families and ‘Positive Pathways out of Homelessness’ which offered virtual support groups to marginalised people addressing their wellbeing and housing needs and connecting them to specialist support. 

Fundraising

Apart from our four major deliverables, and as identified above we’ve also sourced appropriate funding for the organisation of over £120,000; developed income generation webinars to support local organisations; and consolidate their future strategic direction. Many have attended the webinars and also participated in our dedicated programme to support community groups serving people from ethnically diverse backgrounds.

Our reflections

CSC has helped Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland through a tough year. Through our work with their hardworking team, we have become conversant with specific challenges for social sector organisations in the North East. Our learning puts us in a good position to support more groups and organisations through Steps to Recovery

Our tailored support for TM&C has been a meaningful piece of work and we look forward to using our learning and experience to support other organisations in the North East and beyond.