Four charities have been chosen to receive a share of £100,000 in funding from Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation’s Opportunity & Resilience Fund.

The Opportunity & Resilience Fund is a new grants programme initiative from Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation which has a focus to support charities with specific projects that will provide financial resilience, employability skills, training and opportunities to underserved communities in need.

The four charities receiving the funding are Refugee Action, Smart Works Leeds, Canopy Housing and Groundwork NE and Cumbria.

Lloyd Latibeaudiere, Trustee at Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation, said:

It’s a very exciting time for the Charitable Foundation to be able to launch our first grants programme and support these four excellent projects. The Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation Opportunity & Resilience Fund forms part of the Society’s larger commitment of investing an extra £1million in 2021, to help communities in building financial resilience across the UK and supporting employability and digital skills training.

As a mutual organisation we’re owned by our members and not shareholders, meaning we can reinvest profits to deliver benefits to our communities, members and colleagues and really deliver on our social purpose.

Charity and project details

Canopy Housing

Canopy Housing, based in Leeds, has been awarded £21,000 to fund their Skills and Training Officer for a year. The organisation renovates houses for people who are homeless by using volunteers who are not in employment education or training. Volunteers receive employability and skills training as well as on site construction experience and are also awarded a certification in construction to help them secure employment. Some of the funding will also help them to deliver a more intensive training programme to 30 volunteers over the year.

David Nugent, Director of Canopy Housing, said:

We are delighted Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation have chosen to support Canopy’s new training programme. It has always been tough for young people in the most deprived areas of Leeds to get into the job market. It is even tougher for them in the aftermath of a nationwide pandemic. Our training programme, delivered on site and in the classroom alongside employment support, will help them gain the confidence to compete and take the next step into employment or further education. And that’s not all. Their work on site will help turn empty houses into homes for homeless people. Without backers like YBS, we simply could not do what we do.

Groundwork NE and Cumbria

Groundwork NE and Cumbria has received £21,000 to support the salary of a Digital Inclusion Manager, who will lead their new ‘Be Tech Savvy’ programme. Groundwork have years of experience in supporting young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs). This programme will aim to equip young people who are at risk of becoming NEETs with the digital skills that they need to access employment. The project aims to reach 90 young people over the year, with the aim of about half progressing to employment at the end of the programme.

Vanessa Kelly, Project Manager at Groundwork NE and Cumbria, said:

We are really thankful to receive this funding from Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation to support our ‘Be Tech Savvy’ project. With this funding Groundwork NE and Cumbria aim to ensure all young people who join the programme are equipped with key digital skills. It is harmful to assume that all young people are tech savvy and digitally enabled. Many young people who find technology difficult can experience fear and shame as they struggle with online activities such as emails and video calls. Not all young people have access to a smart phone and not all digital inclusion is best served via a smart phone. Lack of awareness or concern in regard to cyber security is also an issue we will address through this programme. In an increasingly digital world, online access and security is a necessity, from banking, accessing Universal Credit and searching and applying for jobs.

Refugee Action

Refugee Action has been awarded £30,000 to fund an online pre-employability course for refugees and migrants across the UK, which will help refugees to become familiar with the UK job market and into employment. The project aims to support 80 refugees and migrants and train 40 professional mentors as volunteers.

Tim Naor Hilton, Refugee Action Chief Executive, said:

We are incredibly grateful to Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation for their commitment to opening up opportunities for some of society’s most vulnerable people. Refugees have a wealth of skills to share. Many were forced to leave careers back home, but arriving in the UK, they start at the bottom. That’s why, with the support of the Charitable Foundation, we are launching a new digital project that will find innovative ways to support refugees back into employment. Together, we want to give refugees more opportunities to build safe, happy and productive lives in the UK, and this partnership will achieve just that.

Smart Works Leeds

Smart Works Leeds has received £28,000 to employ an Outreach Officer to establish partnerships with referral agencies across Yorkshire, specifically with organisations working with women in minority ethnic background communities. Smart Works provide job and interview coaching to women who are facing barriers to employment. The project will seek to establish partnerships with 20 referral agencies, with an expected outreach of 120 women over the year.

Saffeena Geldart, Trustee at Smart Works Leeds, said:

Smart Works Leeds are honoured to benefit from this funding from Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation, that will enable us to support and empower women across Yorkshire.

In the last year the number of women facing unemployment has risen sharply and Smart Works Leeds has never been more needed. Funding for our service will help more women find the confidence to succeed at a crucial moment, get the job and transform their lives.

By funding this Outreach Project for Smart Works Leeds, Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation will allow us to expand our reach across the region, helping women from not only Leeds but now also Bradford, Doncaster and York, as well as focusing on how we better support women from minority ethnic background communities.

Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation

Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation is funded through the Small Change Big Difference® scheme where members donate the pennies from the interest on their accounts just once a year to help smaller charities around the UK.

In 2020, the Charitable Foundation donated £419,915 to 359 registered charities nominated by members and colleagues from around the UK.

For more information about our Small Change Big Difference® scheme and to see an interactive map of recent Charitable Foundation donations visit


All information correct at time of publication.