New grants of up to £20,000 are being made available to community groups in some of the towns and villages hardest hit by the economic fallout of coronavirus.

County Durham-based housing association believe housing has launched a new funding programme to provide charities, community groups or schools with grants of between £10,000 and £20,000.

The Community Investment Capital Grants are being targeted specifically at 12 areas of County Durham that have been identified as being most in need of the investment. The full list of communities includes; Blackhall Rocks, Brandon, Coundon and Leeholme, Deneside (Seaham), Esh Winning, Gilesgate, Hall Lane Estate (Willington), Horden Crossroads (Peterlee), Oakley Green (West Auckland), Shotton Colliery, Wheatley Hill and Wingate.
Applications are being sought from projects that will improve the lives of people living in each community; particularly believe housing tenants. Initiatives are expected to prove that they will tackle worklessness or low levels of skills and qualification attainment, increase household income, improve health and confidence or supporting the planet through innovative thinking and reducing waste.

Proposals that aim to reduce the impact of coronavirus in the community will be given priority. All shortlisted projects will be able to operate during current coronavirus restrictions and guidance.

Community Investment Team Leader at believe housing, Angela Stobbart, said: “The communities we’re targeting are probably suffering from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic more than most. We’re looking for exciting new projects that can tackle the challenges head on by improving the life chances of people living in those communities.

“These are the largest single grants we’ve provided to date through our community funding programme and we’re expecting interest, and the standard of applications, to be very high.”

An initial £40,000 has been allocated to the funding programme by believe housing. Applications for the first round are being invited now, with a closing date of Friday, 16 October. Bids can include funding towards capital costs; classes, activities or events; travel; equipment; marketing; and running costs. Full terms and conditions are available on the believe housing website.

The new grant programme will run alongside believe housing’s established and successful funding streams awarding £500, £1,000 and £5,000 to £10,000 to projects across County Durham. Scores of groups have already benefited from this funding and existing recipients will be considered for the new higher level funding.