Supporting County Durham’s Community Venues
County Durham’s community centres and village halls are being given a helping hand to survive the coronavirus pandemic.
Local community organisations have been left struggling as a result of current restrictions, with many relying on income from room hire to keep their buildings open.
They’re now being supported by Durham County Council’s 14 Area Action Partnerships (AAPs), who have been given a combined £1.4 million as part of a COViD-19 Assistance Fund.
The money can be used to cover three months of bills or to support groups who are currently helping their local community.
Hamsteels Community Association in Esh Winning has been awarded £1,500 by Mid Durham AAP to help it stay afloat and cover the cost of its utility bills while they’re closed.
Many of the association’s local events and activities had to be cancelled because of the lockdown, with the association describing the grant as a ‘lifeline’ to help it plan for the future, knowing there will be a centre to return to.
Allington House in Durham City is another group which has seen its income drop in recent weeks. The centre would normally host a number of community groups and despite having its doors closed, it has still had to pay its bills.
It received the first of Durham AAP’s grants when it was given almost £1,900 to cover its bills for the next three months.
Durham AAP has also helped cover bills at Newton Hall Community Centre with a grant of £1,700.
The community centre has now opened its doors to the Durham Foodbank, which needed extra space as it supports more families who are struggling as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Staff at the foodbank are using the centre as somewhere to pack and prepare family food parcels for the Durham area.
The centre’s treasurer, Cllr Amanda Hopgood, said: “It didn’t take much considering by the trustees of the community partnership that we open our building to Durham Foodbank when it needed space. It has never been more important than it is right now for communities and people to look out for one another and where possible work and support each other.
“Whilst we can’t operate our usual weekly activities it just seemed the right thing to do to allow someone else to use the facilities. With the support of the AAP through a grant, it has meant we have been able to ensure we can remain financially viable and keep the centre open and functioning for this much needed service.”
Cllr Brian Stephens, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “It’s great that our COViD-19 Assistance Fund is already helping a number of community organisations and I’m sure many more will be helped over the coming weeks. It is so important that they’re able to stay open and be there for their local communities when the restrictions have eased.
“It is also brilliant to see that our community venues are helping the foodbank in the case of Newton Hall. Working together for the benefit of all our residents is exactly what we need to do during these difficult times and we’re all grateful for their work.”
More information on the grants available from all 14 AAPs is available on the council’s website at www.durham.gov.uk/AAPS