The prestigious national award at the 2023 Social Value Conference has acknowledged the County Durham Pound scheme for its exceptional endeavours in generating opportunities for social value within County Durham.

The scheme, which involves 12 key organizations including Durham County Council, Business Durham (the county council’s business support service), Durham University, Durham Constabulary, Durham Police and Crime Commissioners Office, Northumbrian Water Living Water, Believe Housing, Karbon Homes, Livin, Bernicia, New College Durham, and the Bishop Chadwick Education Trust, has been bestowed with the Best Public Sector Project award.

The County Durham Pound project brings together the collective spending power and partnerships of these organizations to maximize social, economic, and environmental value throughout the county. Its objectives encompass the creation of local employment opportunities, the reduction of the county’s environmental impact, and the provision of meaningful training and upskilling support.

Cllr Susan McDonnell, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for procurement, digital and customer services, said:

“We are absolutely delighted that the County Durham Pound Project has been named the Best Public Sector Project for 2023. Set in motion as part of the county’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, this project brings together key organisations across a variety of sectors all committed to delivering social value opportunities for the county and its people. 

“Together, our organisations have significant spending power and through the County Durham Pound project we are able to identify opportunities for our residents and county businesses.”

Since its launch in September 2022, the County Durham Pound partnership has supported the installation of a wild pod at Oakley Cross School in West Auckland. The pod offers a home for plants and provides a natural habitat for hedgehogs and wild animals while giving schoolchildren the opportunity to learn about looking after the environment.

As part of the project, the council has also been working in partnership with its local construction contractors to boost and implement social value across the county. This has taken the form of engagement with communities; delivering apprenticeships; employing local people on contracts; providing gardening beds and site visits for schoolchildren; and improving the local environment. 

Other work done through the County Durham Pound includes partnerships with housing providers to build new homes that are safe, affordable, and sustainable. It also includes the provision of work opportunities and employment support to residents and tenants, as well as delivering over 200 hours of online and in-person training.

For more information about the County Durham Pound project, visit 


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