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Old friends reunite to provide boost for charity

05 September 2023


A Teesside University colleague was able to strengthen links with a charity close to her heart, thanks to the Be The Change workplace giving scheme.

Pat McBride with Maria Ditchburn
Pat McBride with Maria Ditchburn

Be the Change is funded by Teesside University colleagues who donate the spare pennies from their monthly salaries, to provide grants to local organisations which are nominated by contributors.

Among charities receiving a donation is the Cause Foundation, which provides food hampers to the disadvantaged and responds to crisis requests from vulnerable families for furniture and household items.

Founded by Pat McBride, it started as the Cause Christmas Hamper Campaign in 1987 at Newlands Catholic School FCJ, in Middlesbrough, when 25 Christmas hampers were delivered to families in need and has expanded ever since. In 2022, almost 1800 hampers were created for local families.

Maria Ditchburn, Strategy and Planning Manager at the University, was a pupil at the school in the nineties and has continued links with the Cause Foundation, resulting in the nomination for Be The Change support.

Maria said: “When I heard about Be the Change, I signed up and nominated the Cause Foundation. Pat was my French teacher back at school and she is a well-known hero in the community for her supportive hard work.

We help families all year round

Pat McBride, Cause Foundation

“It is great to see Cause’s amazing work continue. I am so happy the money will help families in need during this difficult time.” Pat said: “We are delighted to receive the donation from Teesside University. Maria and many past pupils have supported us for more than 30 years and have encouraged others to contribute too.

“We help families all year round. Parents and carers can request a holiday hunger bag during the school breaks which provide them with food for the family.”

Pat added: “We also respond to crisis requests to support families’ individual needs depending on what they need. This may include furniture, toiletries, long-life food and vouchers for supermarkets.

“Cause members also volunteer at The Trussell Trust foodbank at St Thomas More Church which is supported by the organisation with donations of food. The donation is much appreciated and will be directed to our food campaign to support families who are struggling during this cost-of-living crisis.”

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