CHARITIES across Dorset could benefit from a new £250,000 fund launched by Santander bank.

The South West region is the first to take part in the Santander Community Fund, which will provide grants of up to £5,000 for projects that help disadvantaged people in the area.

It is open to small local charities or local projects of national charities with funding available to cover salaries, equipment or materials used.

Nominations can be made by visiting any Santander branch in the region and completing a Community Fund nomination form.

The closing date for nominations is October 12 and entries will be considered by a panel of staff drawn from across the region with grants awarded in November.

Alison Varney, divisional managing director for Santander said: “We’re keen to hear about those small, local charities in the South West where a grant of up to £5,000 could make a real difference to help people in the area.”

The Santander Community Fund is being piloted in the South West before being launched nationally in 2013 with a £1million fund.