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Story: Mixed Grant & Loan

Sunderland Bangladesh International Centre

Fund: Flexible Finance
Type: Mixed Grant & Loan
Location: Sunderland
Date: August 2023

Key achievements:

  • Extensive renovations to their commercial kitchen

Sunderland Bangladesh International Centre used the Recovery Loan Fund (RLF) with Flexible Finance to renovate parts of their building to expand their provision.

Sunderland BangladeshInternationalCentre: An anchor for Henden’s diverse community

Sunderland Bangladesh International Centre (SBIC) based in Henden, Sunderland has a long history of engaging and supporting their region’s diverse and rich community. Lived experience of social, economic, inequality and racism have helped to create a community anchor and a safe and welcoming space for all the community to enjoy. They offer activities and cultural events as well as training to support growth and development. Co-production and delivery of services based on bottom-up youth and community work principles, practice, and expertise are at the heart of the centre, and they are committed to collaborative working and innovative partnerships. The Centre, based in one of the most deprived areas of the country, has been a hub for Sunderland’s diverse community since 1999.  

SBIC works alongside communities, facilitating, incubating, and nurturing community initiatives which enable black and ethnic minorities to tackle racial and social injustice and advance their own solutions to challenges within their communities. 

Giving young people a voice and opportunities to develop confidence and thrive

Over the past few years SBIC has had an ambition to grow its support for Sunderland’s young people and to provide a vibrant space to welcome them, and create real opportunities to help them grow, develop, and learn vital skills for life and work. The Centre had initially planned to raise around £150K from donations and grants but needed a substantive injection of funding to help them grow and evolve as an organisation and make their vision for young people a reality Now a much-needed grant of over £1.2 million from the Youth Investment Fund, plus finance through the Recovery Loan and Flexible Finance from Social Investment Business, will help to transform their Centre and create more opportunities for the community to enjoy. It means they can help young people to grow their self-confidence and social connectedness and enhance happiness and wellbeing.  

The Youth Investment Fund, together with our Recovery Loan with Flexible Finance is giving us the best of both worlds, enabling SBIC to grow and enhance our youth offer, generate income, and deliver a shared vision for our rich community. Combined they are helping us deliver our long-term ambitions to give everyone new opportunities, fulfil their passions and get the very best training and support to make their way in world. And vitally it moves us forward in our dream to develop as an Accredited Learning Centre for young people and adults - our centre will be a beacon of hope for the whole community. “

Abu Shama
CEO at Sunderland Bangladeshi International Centre

A safe and welcoming space to learn and have fun together

The Youth Investment Fund grant will help SBIC to further enhance is skills building and careers confidence support for young people, helping them to explore their strengths, their needs and what they want to do in the future. 

The funding means they can fully refurbish and expand their training centre space and create new partitions for four separate training and learning spaces, which means they have greater flexibility, and can run parallel sessions. The Centre has a bold ambition to create a structured development and training programme for young people, helping them to have the best opportunities. Alongside training and creating a space for young people to access youth working qualifications, there will also be more space for fun activities and a new “chill out” zone for young people to relax and hang out with their friends. There are lots of engaging activities, including art and crafts, outdoor physical activities, and there’s always a warm drink and meal offered from the centre’s vibrant kitchen.  

Co-production is one of SBIC’s core values and they have invested time to asking young people what they want via focus groups and surveys, so their views will inform the Centre’s youth offer, including the look and feel of the space. They want it to be a space where young people feel at home and have real agency in the Centre’s development. Once complete they will be able to support even more young people.  


Flexing their offer to everyone

Whilst the Youth Investment Fund has paved the way for a new capital project, Flexible Finance and a Recovery Loan from Social Investment Business will help make their Centre even more responsive to their community’s needs. As well as paying for fixtures and fittings and great decoration, the funding will transform their large commercial kitchen and enable them to invest in some state-of-the-art kitchen equipment that everyone can use. Their team of chefs will be able to cascade their trade and teach young people and all the community cooking skills using their in-house expertise. Everyone will benefit from learning invaluable skills for life and work, as well as enhancing their well-being by cooking healthy meals.  

Learning new digital skills are also on offer. The funding will enable the Centre to update and enhance IT equipment and take forward their digital inclusion strategy, helping communities to develop new skills and have confidence using digital technology. SBIC is a hub for a diverse community across 33 different ethic backgrounds, including many refuges. Some communities have little experience of using new technology, that’s why the Centre is investing in laptops, iPads, and white boards to help develop new digital skills and grow digital confidence.  

Find out more about Flexible Finance.

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