How non-profits Opencast supported make an impact

17 October 2023

As part of our commitment to giving 2.5% of its net profits to non-profits, we supported grants of £5000 to 10 charities, chosen after a vote by people working across the business.

Our grants came from the Opencast Charitable Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.

In part two of our blog, five of this year’s 10 grantees share the impact of their work.

Manon, Yohan and Clare planting trees with Trees for Cities

What they tell us about their impact

FareShare UK provides a network of food distributors that takes good quality surplus food and distributes it to frontline charities and community groups. One in five people are currently experiencing food insecurity and regularly have to miss meals.

FareShare Merseyside supports both individuals and charities. Our grant helped them to expand their reach into North Wales and for the purchase of electric vans operating across Liverpool and increased coverage in Cheshire. This allowed them to reach more than 30,000 vulnerable people and to provide food support to 53 charities and grassroots groups. The food we provided over the last year saved the North Wales voluntary sector approximately £232,000 that they could reinvest into maintaining and expanding their vital services.

93% of the charities said their beneficiaries were able to save money from accessing our food that can be used on other essentials. 88% of charities said their service users feel less isolated as a result of FareShare food, and 81% have improved mental health.

For more information or to find out how you can support their work, visit the FareShare website.


Depaul UK is a homelessness charity working with young people in Manchester, the North East, Cumbria, South Yorkshire and London.

Depaul UK’s Steps to Success programme is their national programme that supports people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness to get into or return to education, training or employment. Our grant helped to fund the programme in Greater Manchester. During that time, the charity supported 114 young people, with 67 attending group work sessions, and the rest receiving 1-1 support. 20 clients were able to start or maintain employment, with a further 30 gaining new qualifications to help them achieve their goals. Another eight were able to find work experience placements to build confidence and gain experience of work.

For more information or to support their work, visit the Depaul UK website.


Trees for Cities works to improve lives by planting trees in cities, including through an ‘edible playgrounds’ initiative. The first playgrounds opened in schools in Cardiff to enhance learning and health, with a focus on food growing, healthy eating, food education and enterprise.

Opencast’s support helped Trees for Cities to design and install a new ‘edible playground’ at Ash Field Academy in Leicestershire - a special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) school for pupils from aged four to 19 with complex medical conditions or serious physical disabilities. The grant covered the design, materials, installation and education sessions.

The school’s grounds have been transformed into an accessible, sensory teaching garden that inspires hands-on learning and helps get children excited about being outside and growing healthy food.

For more information or to support their work, visit the Trees for Cities website.


Blue Sky Trust is a Tyneside-based charity working to remove the stigma and discrimination against by those living with HIV to connect and thrive through peer mentoring, support, education, advocacy and through volunteering opportunities.

In the last year, the charity’s staff and volunteers supported 153 people living with HIV in Tyne and Wear. Their services helped people to connect and thrive through peer mentoring, support, education, advocacy and volunteering opportunities. 62 people attended a peer support group or event, 119 people received 1-2-1 support from either a peer mentor or a member of staff and the charity has also trained 28 peer mentors living with HIV to support other members.

Their awareness-raising activity reached over 5000 people through events at pride and other community events. The charity’s Think For Yourself project delivered 205 workshops in 19 schools, including workshops, assemblies and staff training and reached 5989 of people.

Our grant helped to cover costs including towards core staff including their Director and Office and Communication Manager who work to deliver their HIV projects and the Think For Yourself Project.

For more information or to support their work, visit the Blue Sky Trust website.


Homes of Promise is a UK-registered charity offering hope to vulnerable, poor and destitute children in Uganda. Their work has helped change the lives of vulnerable and destitute boys who had been living on Kampala’s streets for years.

Our grant helped to change the lives of four boys who have been welcomed into the charity’s home and supported them with school and boarding fees, uniforms and equipment.

Find out more about their work on the Homes of Promise website.

How we chose the 2022 grantees

The 10 non-profits we supported with small grants in 2022 were chosen by a company-wide vote of our people.

After identifying some of the UK’s most pressing social issues, and canvassing the views of our people, our focus for our non-profit donation programme for was on small-to-medium non-profit organisations working in the North East (where seven in 10 of our people continue to work) alongside non-profits with a UK-wide and international emphasis.

On top of these direct grants, we have a matched funding scheme that sees the company match pound for pound the first £250 of individual fundraising efforts by anyone at Opencast through marathons, swims and more. And our payroll giving scheme allows our people to make tax-efficient donations to their own chosen charities direct from their monthly salary.

What’s next?

We are sharpening our focus on the priorities identified by a new, evidence-based social impact strategy that has identified three social impact 'pillars':

  • health, inclusion and wellbeing
  • places and planet
  • a fairer economy and society.

We’re also looking to form deeper, longer-term relationships with non-profits beyond financial grants, providing pro bono/low bono support. We look forward to working with them to help non-profits deliver lasting impact to the people they serve.

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