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Case studies

Good causes urged to apply for historic charity’s £2m Centenary Grants

Charitable causes across Hull and East Yorkshire are being reminded to apply for special Centenary Grants launched by the historic Sir James Reckitt Charity to celebrate its 100-year legacy.

The Sir James Reckitt Charity was founded in 1921 by Quaker Sir James, using shares in Reckitt & Sons Ltd, now global health, hygiene and nutrition giant Reckitt.

The charity has become a fitting legacy for Hull’s great philanthropist, having donated over £30m to help good causes across both Hull and East Yorkshire and the Quaker community.

To mark 100 years of giving to charitable organisations across Hull and the surrounding area, The Sir James Reckitt Charity has announced special Centenary Grants totalling £2m are being made available this year.

The grants are available to any organisation or charitable cause which has been supported by The Sir James Reckitt Charity in the past 10 years.

Local organisations which have benefitted from the charity in recent times include Hull Sea Cadets, Humbercare, Sight Support and the Spring Bank Community Centre.

Sarah Craven, Chairman of The Sir James Reckitt Charity and great, great granddaughter of Sir James, said: “As our charity celebrates 100 years of supporting good causes, we were delighted to announce special Centenary Grants which are available to all organisations in our existing network.

“As a descendant of Sir James, it’s been a privilege to continue the extraordinary impact he had on Hull and to ensure his values and charitable ethos lived on after his death.

“I encourage all organisations we currently work with to please get in touch with us and apply for our Centenary Grants. These grants are available throughout 2022 and are a significant increase on our typical annual giving.”

The Centenary Grants have been made available following the death of Kate Pollock, a cousin of Mrs Craven and herself a descendant of Sir James, as well as other sources of funds.

In recent times, the charity has given around £1m a year to good causes. This year, to mark 100 years, the charity has announced the special Centenary Grants, in addition to its existing donations.

Mrs Craven announced the grants to special guests and delegates at a celebration event which was held at Reckitt’s £105m Science and Innovation Centre.

She took to the stage wearing a broach which was presented to Sir James when he officially opened the Carnegie Library in Hull in 1905.

Sir James campaigned tirelessly for the first public, free-access library in Hull, which opened in 1892 in east Hull. It was part of an extraordinary legacy which also saw him oversee the construction of around 600 houses in Garden Village for Reckitt employees.

That legacy has been carried on by The Sir James Reckitt Charity’s work over the past century, with millions supporting an array of charities and other organisations in Hull and East Yorkshire.

As well as supporting local good causes, donations have been made by The Sir James Reckitt Charity further afield. In 1984, £10,000 was sent to tackle famine in Africa; £15,000 supported a hurricane appeal in Honduras and Nicaragua in 1998; and £20,000 was sent to Kosovo in 1999 as war raged in the country.

More recently, £20,000 was sent to Afghanistan and £50,000 to Ukraine.

  • To apply for a Centenary Grant, please contact charity administrator Kelly Sykes-Moody via [email protected].

  • Applications need to be submitted by September 2022. To be eligible to receive a grant, you must meet the criteria as set out on the website, and have been supported by The Sir James Reckitt Charity within the past 10 years.

Hull Sea Cadets

Hull Sea Cadets provides a unique learning experience that’s designed to help children and teenagers grow into the people they want to be. For this case study we spoke to Sue Coupland, a Trustee of the charity.

“We are a self-supporting youth charity with a governing body, the Marine Society of Sea Cadets,” says Sue. “Our volunteers are unpaid and willingly give up their time to offer young people aged between 10-18 years a range of water and land-based activities and opportunities, all underpinned by a nautical ethos based on maritime customs and traditions. We hold meetings twice a week and the Cadets are given the opportunity to attend courses, camps, competitions, events and even take part in off-shore voyages on a training ship. “

The Sir James Reckitt Charity supplies Hull Sea Cadets with an annual grant that they put toward their running costs, which can be up to £15,000 a year. Sue tells us that it’s otherwise very difficult to secure funding for running costs, as most charities prefer donated money to be invested in equipment and selective building projects. Hull Sea Cadets is based in a large building in a deprived area, so our grant enables the charity to keep its administrative, teaching and training environments shipshape at all times.

“We’re committed to keeping our subscription fees very low,” explains Sue. “The grant from the Sir James Reckitt Charity helps us to do this, which makes our education and training programmes accessible to families across the city. Our core belief is that no child goes without, so this generous funding is absolutely crucial.”

Sue also tells us that due to the pandemic, children at Hull Sea Cadets are currently unable to raise money through bag packing at supermarkets. Aside from resulting in a loss of income, the cadets are also missing out on a chance to meet the public and raise awareness of the charity. This makes the Sir James Reckitt Charity grant more important than ever, which we’re delighted to provide.

“Hull Sea Cadets has been going strong for over a hundred years and we even have Freedom of the City of Kingston upon Hull,” says Sue. “Our cadets learn a variety of hands-on skills such as marine engineering, as well as take part in activities and adventures that teach them about teamwork, respect, loyalty, self-confidence, commitment, self-discipline and honesty. Essentially, we equip young people for modern life and help them to become the best version of themselves.”

With around fifty-five cadets from a range of backgrounds, Hull Sea Cadets helps young people to study for qualifications such as BTECs and promotes extracurricular achievements like the Duke of Edinburgh Award. The charity also has as a detachment of Royal Marine Cadets. Through a combination of activities that include sailing, camping, cooking, first aid, map reading and seamanship, the cadets enjoy a safe and friendly learning environment where they can set personal goals and make friends for life.

“We give the children everything they need to transform their futures,” adds Sue. “They can learn seamanship skills, improve their physical fitness, become more confident and explore what the world has to offer. The financial support we receive from the Sir James Reckitt Charity is so helpful and we’re all very grateful.”

You can find out more about Hull Sea Cadets here.


Located on Beverley Road and working across the region, Humbercare’s mission is to educate, rehabilitate and promote the mental and moral improvement of offenders. For this case study we spoke to John McNally, the Coordinator of Humbercare’s Circles of Support and Accountability.

Circles of Support and Accountability is a community response to sexual offending, which works in partnership with criminal justice agencies and the Humberside Probation Trust. Each circle is composed of up to four volunteers who work anywhere from 14 months to two years with an individual who needs focused support.

“Due to the nature of our service users, we rarely get any press coverage for Circles of Support and Accountability,” says John. “This makes it very difficult to raise essential funds, so the grant we receive from the Sir James Reckitt Charity is extremely valuable and greatly appreciated.”

The grant that we provide to Humbercare allows John and his community of volunteers to work closely with convicted sex offenders. These people are often shunned by their families and the rest of society, making the rehabilitation process much more difficult and increasing the likelihood of them reoffending.

“They’re on the outskirts of society and must learn how to manage their actions,” explains John. “The last thing they need is to be ostracised – if they’re treated as enemies, they will surely reoffend. Our job is to offer a guiding hand and help those who want to change for the better.”

The vast majority of these circles are successful, with the individual never committing another offence. John told us about a particular example, who we’ll call Neil for the purposes of confidentiality:

Neil had committed a number of offences. When questioned, he would say that he had been subjected to indecent assault as a youth and that his outlook then was that it wasn’t a crime.

Once released from prison in 2017, a circle was set up for Neil. However, it closed down in 2018 because he was found guilty of downloading illegal images and convicted again. Dedicated to providing Neil with the help he desperately needed, John later visited him in prison and found that his tone was much different.

Neil was due for release in 2019 and by then John had vetted and trained four volunteers. They visited Neil in prison for four weeks prior to his release and Humbercare organised accommodation for him once he was out.

At the time of writing (September 2021), Neil has been working with his circle for two years and is also voluntarily taking a drug that lowers his libido. He has deliberately not accessed the internet and doesn’t own a smartphone, plus he attends mindfulness classes at a local church. John also found Neil a voluntary role with a local organisation, which is helping him to re-enter society.

Neil was originally classified as very high risk but this has been reduced to high risk. This shows that he’s moving in the right direction and Humbercare continues to support his journey despite the pandemic. In the next few months his circle will close and Neil will be in a good position to work with responsible adults and the wider community.

“Our circles are under the radar but it’s crucial work that needs to be done,” says John. “The support we receive from the Sir James Reckitt Charity makes this possible, as it pays for comprehensive training and appropriate venues. We would like to thank the organisation for its very kind and generous support.”

You can find out more about Humbercare and its Circles of Support and Accountability here.

Humber All Nations Alliance

Francis Ahiakpa is the Chief Executive Officer at HANA. We asked him how our grant is put to good use:

“The Sir James Reckitt Charity has been helping us for quite some time and we’re very grateful for it. It gives us the opportunity to support our groups, members and clients in many ways, plus it allows us to afford all kinds of relatively little things that make a big difference.”

We asked Francis for a few examples and were delighted to hear the results:

“Many of our members are unable to come to us in the city centre. Thanks to the grant from the Sir James Reckitt Charity, we have the resources to visit them at their homes. This means that no one goes without the support they require and we can help more people than ever before.

“Social inclusion is also extremely important,” adds Francis. “The generous donation enables us to organise a wide range of exciting events. This could be anything from a trip to The Deep or a day at the beach, to a walk around a local park and activities for children.”

Francis makes a crucial point here, as BAME and migrant communities are of course not entirely made up of adults. Many children and teenagers move to Hull and the Humber region from all around the world, which can be difficult and stressful at such a young age.

“We want children to live as children,” says Francis. “Asylum seeking families need to be made to feel welcome and HANA helps to make it a smooth transition for them. With the support of organisations such as the Sir James Reckitt Charity, we can pay for fun activities for the kids to enjoy.”

Heritage is another key focus area for HANA. With individuals and families from so many social, religious and cultural communities living right here in our region, the organisation works hard to preserve and celebrate this rich tapestry of identities. This includes vibrant events and a range of projects that showcase the clothing, artefacts and traditions of multiple nations from around the globe.

“We also run a Breakfast Club that’s free of charge for our members,” adds Francis. “The regular donation from the Sir James Reckitt Charity has contributed to us refurbishing our kitchen and providing delicious breakfasts every Thursday morning. This is a regular opportunity for our many members to eat together, make new friends and enjoy a shared experience, which is great for their mental and emotional wellbeing.”

HANA is a fantastic organisation that helps individuals and families to settle into our city and make it their new home. This includes introducing them to local services such as the police, Hull City Council and the NHS, ensuring that they have access to everything they need to integrate in a fast and effective way. You can find out more about Humber All Nations Alliance here.

Quaker Social Action

Quaker Social Action is a longstanding charity that supports people on low incomes in East London and across the UK. Originally founded by the Quakers and with 150 years of social good to its name, the organisation takes a practical approach to tackling poverty and injustice in modern society.

The Sir James Reckitt Charity has been supporting Quaker Social Action for quite some time. In fact, they’ve been a recipient of our annual grants since the early 1990s, which has allowed us to play a core role in the ongoing progression of the charity for more than a generation.

Rachel Quinsee, Individual Giving Officer at Quaker Social Action, had this to say: “The donation is particularly useful because it’s unrestricted. This means that we can invest the money however we see fit and put it to use where the need is greatest. This flexibility enables us to be very strategic and cover all kinds of expenses.”

Quaker Social Action helps people on low incomes in a variety of ways. One example is its national helpline for those struggling with funeral costs, with the charity offering expert guidance and recommendations both on how to reduce costs and how to access funds towards them. A housing project for young adult carers is another way that the organisation provides one-to-one support, as shared housing offers individuals the opportunity to become more independent and avoid homelessness.

“Our team members focus on those who are marginalised and in need of a helping hand,” says Rachel. “As well as running projects that protect people from becoming homeless, we also have programmes aimed at improving financial and mental wellbeing. On top of this, we promote wider change by training professionals across the UK, which is essential for broadening our impact and facilitating positive change.”

Dedicated to understanding why problems arise, Quaker Social Action also works with national and local governments, influences the funeral industry, seeks testimonies from real people who are struggling, and carries out other research that has the welfare of communities in mind.

Rachel says: “We’re always on the lookout for new volunteers as well. For instance, we have our Turn a Corner project, which is a mobile community library for people affected by homelessness in London. This addresses the need for human connection and mental stimulation through conversation and reading.”

Here at the Sir James Reckitt Charity, we’re proud to support Quaker Social Action, as the work it carries out is more crucial than ever before.

“The unrestricted funding we receive works magic,” adds Rachel. “It gives us the time and freedom to ask, ‘where is this most needed today?’ It also allows us to research new work as we ask, ‘what is no one else doing that we can do to help?’ Being reflective and responsive is integral to how we work, so the nature of this generous grant allows us to use the money in the best way and make powerful changes right here and now.”

You can find out more about Quaker Social Action here.

Spring Bank Community Centre

Spring Bank Community Centre is one of the many worthy causes supported by the Sir James Reckitt Charity. Frank McConaghy has been a driving force behind the organisation since the 1990s, so we had a chat with him to discover how our regular donations benefit the team’s crucial work.

“Spring Bank Community Centre is designed around the needs of our local residents,” says Frank. “We provide assistance in a variety of ways, particularly in terms of helping elderly and disabled people to access the internet.”

With many individuals and families lacking internet access or being unfamiliar with how to use computers, the IT suite at Spring Bank Community Centre is an invaluable resource. During the coronavirus pandemic, it became even clearer that many people were missing out, which resulted in the expansion of this service.

“The IT suite has been running for a decade and anyone can come in off the street and learn about computers and the internet,” says Frank. “When we recognised that many people can’t visit us due to the pandemic or mobility reasons, we launched the HHITS programme: Home. Help. Information. Technology. Simplified.”

HHITS sees the Spring Bank Community Centre team visiting people in their homes to teach them about the benefits of using the internet. By providing laptops, smartphones and affordable internet access, they’re changing people’s lives one click at a time.

Frank explained this in more detail: “Everyone is expected to be IT literate these days and own a PC and smartphone, but that simply isn’t the case. There’s a large section of the population that doesn’t understand the internet at all and it can prove very daunting for them. Our role is to teach people at their own pace both in our IT suite and at their homes. This has enabled many people to connect with the outside world, which is especially valuable when they’re self-isolating or have limited mobility.”

Frank told us about one especially powerful example of how HHITS helps people to connect with others: “A local man hadn’t spoken to his brother in Australia for thirty years. Now that we’ve shown him how to use the internet, he speaks to him online and is making up for lost time.”

The funding from the Sir James Reckitt Charity helps Spring Bank Community Centre to continue and develop this outstanding work. From paying staff wages to covering the costs of door-to-door leafleting that spreads awareness of the organisation’s services, the grant is put to good use in a wide range of ways.

“Many years ago, the support from the Sir James Reckitt Charity helped us to convert a storeroom into what’s now our IT workshop,” says Frank. “Since then, we’ve continued to restore and upgrade computers and laptops that are donated to us by businesses and the public. We also help people to get online at home by supplying dongles and setting up TV portals.”

Spring Bank Community Centre supports its neighbourhood and the wider Hull community in many other ways too. From hosting a women’s breakfast club and young cheerleaders to Chinese school students and church groups, all walks of life use the centre’s main hall, green room, IT suite and kitchen on a regular basis.

“We have students from Hull College who use our recycled computers and laptops for their practical units,” adds Frank. “This gives them the opportunity to explore how the hardware functions and if there’s a mistake it’s not the end of the world. The centre also helps people to gain their CSCS card so that they can work on construction sites, which is playing a role in filling the skills gap. All of this is made possible thanks to the fantastic support of funders such as the Sir James Reckitt Charity.”

Spring Bank Community Centre never stops helping elderly and disabled people to understand everything from PCs and laptops to robot vacuum cleaners, smart plugs and video doorbells. You can find out more about this wonderful organisation here.

How to apply

We welcome applications from charities and organizations associated with Hull and East
Yorkshire or with the Society of Friends (Quakers).
You can apply online in just 30 minutes.