Past Projects

1. ESF/SFA LA7 Community Project 2016-2017 (1st round)

This project would help develop the following skills needed for finding jobs in UK:

-English Language in the workplace course

-Business course

-IAG Course (Information, Advice and Guidance)

All 17 participants successfully and efficiently completed the whole project course.


2. Northern Powergrid Community Energy (Community Foundation) Small Grants(2015)

Supporting over 70 people, all participants finished the course. This was successful as most of the those part of the course came from BME backgrounds, where English was their second (or more) language, and everyone was recruited.


3. Northern Powergrid Community Energy Small Grant (2016)

Based on 4 themes: generating, reducing, managing and purchasing energy, we delivered 2 workshops per theme, which ended at the end of November 2016. Reaching over 220 people, the workshops included various types of creative activities, environmental events, and formal and informal discussions.


4. Linden Fund at Tyne and Wear Community Foundation (2015-2016)

Working with those both employed and those unemployed, this project was successful as all those who participated progressed in their work situations, whether that meant finding employment, or changing to a better job. We worked with a variety of clients, some of which included victims of modern slavery, providing the best advice we had at hand, and going the extra mile to support those in need.


5. North East ESF Small Grants Scheme (2014-2015)

Exceeding the regional average of 15% of clients from this scheme becoming employed, we reached 50% of those in the North East. ICOS worked with different clients from different challenging backgrounds, such as migrants to refugees. This is one of our successes that led to ICOS winning the ‘BME One Voice Employment Contribution Award for Sunderland’, which was awarded by the Sunderland BME Network.


 6. Coalfields Regeneration Trust – Small Grants, 1 year (2012-2013)

Targeting those both employed and unemployed, ICOS supported the BME community in the eligible postcodes to develop their skills through gaining accredited and informal qualifications. Our original target of 40 clients was exceeded by an extra 18 people. 16 clients progressed into volunteering, 15 clients acquired a level 1 qualification, 5 clients acquired a level 2 qualification, 22 clients entered an informal English Class, and 12 clients progressed with their employment.


 7. Memories Cafe (2011) 

In partnership with SIDE CIC, we engaged with 15 minority ethnic people through the Memories Cafe project. This project aimed to improve well-being through learning new skills, overcoming cultural barriers, improving self-confidence and developing an interest in creative activities (e.g. creative writing and collage).


8. We organised a series of sport activities to commemorate the London 2012 Olympics (June – July 2012)

This project served the purpose of engaging minority and ethnic people in sport activities and through it, improving their well-being. The sessions included Archery, Climbing, Golf and Tennis and were very well attended. More than 30 participants attended overall, which each event attended by an average of 20 people. 5 volunteers gained extra skills through this project. This project was supported by Sunderland City Council through its Sunderland 2012 grant scheme.


 9. Free smoking cessation drop-in (2011 to 2016) 

The aim of this project was to provide advice and support to those who smoked and those who wanted to quit. The sessions were available in English, Polish and Slovak, so that we could reach a wider clientele. From start to finish, we successfully gave advice and support to 120 people, which included people from challenging backgrounds and the BME community. We were also the only organisation in Sunderland to provide smoking cessation advice and support for those who cannot leave their house. Moreover, we have exceeded the local average quit rate (48% of our users quit as opposed about 43% averages for Tyne and Wear). We currently provide this service for Sunderland’s and Gateshead’s Public Health associations.


10. Sunderland City Council, grant for  European Day of Languages (24/09/2016)

This project included 5 language taster sessions, celebration of heritage and connection to other cultures and countries, food tasting; music, arts and crafts, presentations, and stalls about different cultures. This was found to be a success through the feedback received from questionnaires completed by those who attended.


11. Sunderland City Council, grant . Strategic Initiative Budget (SIB) Fund (2014 / 2015)

A meeting was held at the East Area Committee in Sunderland, where future priorities for the year ahead were discussed and agreed upon. An example of one priority was the facilitation of the use of the local green space, and 9 walks were organised for the local residents, and volunteers were successfully engaged.


12. Since June 2010, we have been delivering Information, Advice, Guidance and Advocacy

This is an ongoing project which ICOS has tried hard to succeed in in all areas. Often, we are able to provide the best results and outcomes for our clients, most of which are part of the BME network, or are from challenging backgrounds. This project includes:

  • Helping recent arrivals in the UK with a range of issues in written, spoken, and online matters (school admission forms, housing forms) and correspondence
  • Supporting clients access welfare benefits, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Working Tax Credit, and Social Security Tribunal cases
  • Appointments in banks, and the opening of new bank accounts
  • Basic online and computer literacy support, as well as creating emails and online forms
  • Liaising with respective MP’s with regards to issues that cannot be communicated due to language barriers
  • Communicating with HMRC in regards to clients issues
  • Finding and helping to apply for grants and government/local council schemes
  • Providing One Planet Living advice, such as in workshops and one-to-one meetings with the general public and the BME community
  • Helping clients change their energy suppliers and providing energy advice
  • Helping provide advice and guidance to those in the BME network who have suffered from racial abuse of any sort
  • Guiding the minority and ethnic community with their lives in the UK, be it with job applications or finding classes and/or accreditations for them to succeed with living in the North East

We have worked with over 300 individuals, and handled more than 600 cases, many fairly simple matters, but some regarding serious, complex, and formal guidance. ICOS have many success stories, such as in a case where we helped a client win over £4500 in overdue Tax Credit. The client spoke limited English and was on a very low income.

Through our work, we have established links with partner agencies, such as advice providers, Jobcentre Plus, HMRC, and employment agencies. We are an active member of the Economic Inclusion Subgroup of the Regional Migration Forum, hosted by the Association of North Eastern Councils (ANEC). The inclusion part of our work has been the core of what we stand and work for. We have never had direct funding to support this service; however, we have had funding for ICOS’s core costs on the basis that we provided such services. The funders included Sir James Knott Trust and Sherburn Hospital. ICOS is becoming a more and more sustainable organisation.


13. We delivered mental health awareness work on behalf of Sunderland City Council (April and May 2015) 

Exceeding our target of engaging with 25 members of the BME community, we supported over 35 individuals from the North East area on mental wellbeing. This was a successful project due to the positive feedback shown in our preliminary evaluation results. Due to this there is now a Polish football club that takes place every Saturday for those who suffer with mental health.


14. We engaged over 50 young BME people in volunteering and building skills through sports. (August 2012 – August 2013, 

The Ready, Steady, Go project was funded through the grant “Sported” , and was £1975. We exceeded our target of working with 45 people and enabled diverse communities, such as Polish and Bangladeshi to come and work together.