A business support network is celebrating donating nearly £7000 to local charities.

The Carlisle Business Support Network, established in 2018, has over the years provided funds to over 10 charities in the area.

With its 27 members spanning diverse sectors, the group forms an integral part of the local business community, using proceeds from membership fees completely for charitable endeavours.

Former chairwoman, Jenny Strong, said: "The idea came from a group of likeminded people in the business community."

As the corporate account manager at Carlisle's Borderway Finance, Ms Strong provided a clear understanding of the network's targeted support.

"We are very business focused and try to recommend and support the attendees," she said.

"Because we understand the excellent service our members provide, it’s almost like recommending a family member."

The network facilitates weekly meetings as platforms for member interaction and presentations by both businesses and charities.

Ms Strong said: "Sometimes it's a chance for everyone to give a general update on what's been happening with their business.

"Then sometimes there is a speaker from a local charity, or it might be a guest that comes in to tell us about their business or give us some pointers on something like marketing or social media."

Among the beneficiaries of their outreach are Eden Valley Hospice, mental health charity Carlisle MIND, Blood Bikes and Spiral, a group dedicated to supporting victims of bullying.

The network gave £500 to sponsor RealiseHR, when four of its team completed the Macmillan Cancer Support Lake District Mighty Hike on the Ullswater Way this summer.

Claire McLean, RealiseHR's Chief executive and a network founding member, said: "It's really a place for small businesses to connect with each other and support each other and recommend each other to grow their business.

"It's very collaborative and giving in nature.

"It's lovely for us to be able to support local charities, national charities or local companies doing charitable events."

Continuing their support in unique ways, the network recently donated £170 to People First, a fundraising group.

This donation has enabled the purchase of gift cards for their Learner Awards Ceremony.

Natalie Bingham, People First's fundraising officer, added: "By helping us to raise our profile and raise funds, they are allowing us to support more people in having their voices heard."