Funding grants offer community venues a lifeline during outbreak
Community centres across county Durham are receiving financial assistance to survive the challenges of coronavirus.
Recreational facilities have been granted support from their local Area Action Partnerships (AAPs) to help cover the cost of utility bills and insurance, at a time when they are receiving no income.
We have given £1.4 million of coronavirus Financial Assistance Funding to our AAPs, for them to allocate to projects in their respective areas who need support during the pandemic.
The funding is being used to assist community organisations in their upkeep throughout the coronavirus outbreak, to ensure that facilities and services remain available to everyone when they can reopen.
Brandon Sports Club
Brandon Sports Club received a grant of £4,800 from Mid Durham AAP to help secure its future.
The club, which is home to a number of sports clubs, including Brandon Cricket Club, Brandon Boxing Club, Brandon Junior Football Club and Brandon SC Senior Football Club, as well as many social and community groups, has been forced to close during the pandemic, and estimated that it would lose £40,000 in income over three months.
Despite responding quickly to the situation, furloughing its two members of staff and applying for a Small Business Grant to help offset the loss, the club realised that additional support was needed.
The club contacted Mid-Durham AAP to explain the situation and the partnership agreed to support the venue, to ensure its future and that of the variety of sports clubs and community groups who use the club on a regular basis.
Ian Johnson, Brandon Sports Club Treasurer and Chairman of Cricket said "We like to think we are a well-run club maintaining reasonable cash reserves but without the help of this grant, our hard-earned cash would have disappeared by mid-April with no income to pay our bills. The grant is a lifeline and a boost to our many volunteers".
Supporting local organisations now and in the future
Gordon Elliott, our head of partnerships and community engagement, said: "County Durham is home to some great facilities, offering a variety of activities for their local communities to get involved in. Having built these up in recent years it would be a travesty if they were to have to close and have all their work and ambitions dashed.
"The loss of any of our community facilities would have a major impact on local people, so our AAPs are committed to supporting local organisations through the coronavirus outbreak and beyond, to ensure they are available to communities in the future."
Crook Community Leisure
Crook Community Leisure also received a monetary boost from the AAPs' coronavirus fund.
The venue provides a range of services, from gym facilities to exercise classes, and is home to a range of clubs and local organisations such as the town's Friends Together group.
When government guidelines closed the centre, the 3 Towns Partnership awarded a grant of £5,000 to cover the centre's gas, electricity, insurance and equipment costs during the crisis.
John Winter, Chairman of Crook Community Leisure, said: "The trustees were delighted to have been supported by the 3 Towns Partnership in the funding which was released by Durham County Council. This was over and above that which the government had made available.
"The grant will add to the certainty that we have in that when we are allowed to open again there will be no risk to the business or to the employment of four key staff. When the government announced that leisure facilities had to close, we immediately froze membership subscriptions which stopped all income into the business but bills still need to be paid. The support from Durham County Council in general and the 3 Towns Partnership in particular has been fantastic."
Staff at the AAP are working hard to ensure that despite the thorough application process, grant requests are dealt with swiftly and funds were granted to Crook Community Leisure in just five days.
The Glenholme Centre
The Glenholme Centre, also in Crook, was granted £591 by the 3 Towns Partnership, from its coronavirus fund.
The centre, which provides support for community groups and vulnerable people through activities in a safe, friendly environment, is open to all and is run by volunteers.
Ian Lyle, CEO of the Glenholme Centre, said: "Glenholme Centre very much appreciates the financial support from Durham County Council via the 3 Towns Partnership to help ensure that beyond the corona virus lockdown we can continue to provide help and support for local people to overcome social isolation and improve mental wellbeing through our ongoing activity program. The voluntary sector will help to play a vital role in re-establishing community links post lockdown."
Spectrum Leisure Centre
A third organisation in the 3 Towns Partnership area, the SLAM Community Development Trust, has also received a grant to help offset the income it has lost as a result of coronavirus.
The organisation, which operates the town's Spectrum Leisure Centre, provides a range of services including gym membership and a variety of fitness classes. The building's sport hall is also available to hire for parties and is used to host a range of activities for members of the community, of all ages.
The 3 Towns Partnership administered a grant of £6,562 to assist with centre's gas, electricity and insurance costs.
Ian Hirst, CEO of Spectrum Leisure, said: "I'd like to thank the team at the 3 Towns Partnership - they have been fantastic for a number of years but have pulled all the stops out to help us in this difficult time. Secondly, I'd like to thank the funding team for working so quickly to get the funds to us. They have really been a life saver at this moment.
"SLAM CDT like many other voluntary sector organisations lost their entire income when lockdown happened. We've not been able to access any other grant aid to date. Our rateable value excludes us from the emergency grants the government made. The banks are not receptive to helping and we await what funding is available from the charity sector. So, it's a huge thank you to the team at Durham County Council."
For more information about AAPs' work to identify local priorities across the county, and the support and funding they are offering during the coronavirus crisis, visit our Area Action Partnerships web page.