21st May 2020

The COVID-19 crisis hasn’t stopped volunteer-led organisations from being the go-to organisation in their communities and continuing to participate in Durham Community Action’s Community Hubs Development Programme. With help from a partnership seed fund available as part of the development project (funded by The National Lottery Community Fund) , these organisations have been able to adapt the way they are working in order to meet the changing needs of their communities.

So far, eight organisations have received support for projects ranging from IT equipment  allowing staff and volunteers to continue their service support remotely, staff wages to enable continued focus on organisational development during the crisis and funding to allow for wider community engagement including community activities, website development and insurance cover.

The eight organisations who received the grants were: Crookhall Community Centre, The Cornforth Partnership, Fishburn Youth and Community Centre, Just for Women, Laurel Avenue Community Association, St Pauls Centre Spennymoor, Wheatly Hill Community Association and Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services.

Photos: Just for Women comfort packages and delivery team

From adapting to new ways of working to the provision of much needed gift and provision packs, all these organisations (along with many more across our County) are making connections with the most isolated and hard to reach in our communities. They are continuing to engage and support their local networks and looking to extend their own offer post lockdown.

Lynne Watson, Centre Manager from Fishburn Youth and Community Centre ,who used the support to reorganise and adjust existing plans in order to hold a socially distanced VE day celebration for the entire village, said “The funding was used to help lift the spirits of our local community in particular the elderly residents who are at high risk from the effects of this dreadful pandemic most of whom have been self-isolating for a number of weeks.  The project gave us the opportunity to really make a difference and remain connected with our community.”

Photos: Fishburn Youth and Community Centre VE Day Celebrations

Diane Spark, Project Manager at UTASS said “We are absolutely delighted that you were able to financially assist our work in the Durham Dales with a grant of £2,040 to purchase and set up 2 new PC’s to enable our additional covid-19 support work. The new PC’s have proven invaluable in helping us to help others during this crisis. We are immensely grateful to all concerned for your support and extreme kindness.”

Durham Community Action would like to say a big thank you to the National Lottery Community Fund, whose grant has allowed us to support these organisations to adjust and move forward during the pandemic, and who in turn support those most at need in their communities. 

Since September 2019, Durham Community Action have been working with 40 volunteer led community organisations throughout the county on the Community Hubs Development Programme (CHDP).  The CHDP has allowed us to work closely with hubs looking at their plans for development and giving these organisations access to one to one specialist advice and guidance, organisational health checks, quality marks and tailored training programmes. More information about the project can be found on our website here.

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