A programme which aims to increase employment opportunities for people in County Durham is inviting organisations to apply for a grant, after it secured an extension of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The South Durham Community Led Local Development (CLLD) initiative, which works to improve economic and social regeneration in Spennymoor, Coundon and Leeholme, Bishop Auckland, St Helen Auckland, West Auckland and Shildon, is offering grants of £10,000 and over for projects which run up to 31 December 2022.

The CLLD, which is led by a local action group and supported by Durham County Council, is inviting applications from community-driven projects that help create jobs, boost employability and promote social regeneration and inclusion.

Funding can be used to cover up to 60 per cent of a total project cost for activity which helps to support businesses to grow and develop or enables businesses and individuals to become ready to trade.

To be eligible for funding, projects must aim to increase employment and skills, social enterprise, and social inclusion in order to support social regeneration within deprived areas of the county. Funding will be prioritised for activity targeting the most deprived areas.

Angela Blanchard, the South Durham CLLD Co-ordinator, said: “We are really pleased that our funding has been extended for another year. The funding has proven invaluable during the coronavirus pandemic and it is great that we can now continue to make a positive difference until at least the end of 2022.

“We are very keen to hear from any organisations who think they may be eligible to receive a grant and I’d encourage them to speak to us to find out more about the process. Our team can give advice and guidance on a one-to-one basis and will help projects through every individual step of the application process.”

The Reach Project has only recently been awarded a contract with CLLD. This project is being delivered by The Cornforth Partnership in partnership with the County Durham Furniture Help Scheme.

It focuses on unemployed and economically inactive people aged 25 plus who are looking to upskill or retrain or may have barriers stopping them from moving forward. The project has fully trained mentors who can offer one-to-one support including help with CVs and digital skills to enhance job searching.

They will also look at vacancies that will match current skills or help upskill or retrain where there is a need within the labour market.

Tony Cutmore, Chief Executive Officer of the Cornforth Partnership, said: “The Cornforth Partnership is excited to be a part of South Durham CLLD-funded provision.

“Our Reach project will work with local people and local organisations within local communities to enhance and provide much needed support around employment and training that will enhance and move residents closer to local employment opportunities.

“The project will also support individuals to address their health and wellbeing needs as well as providing them with a unique journey at their own pace.”

To find out more information about the Reach Project email catherine@cornforthpartnership.org

Organisations who have a project they think might be eligible are encouraged to find out more by visiting www.durham.gov.uk/southdurhamclld or emailing SouthDurhamCLLD@durham.gov.uk