£1.4 million for community and voluntary groups.

The Council is giving each of its 14 area action partnerships (AAP) £100,000 for groups who are providing grass roots level support across the county.

Local councillors have flexibility to use their neighbourhood budgets to support community groups and the voluntary sector by releasing revenue funding previously allocated for capital projects, which could provide a further £1.76 million.

Contact details are available at www.durham.gov.uk/aaps, with groups encouraged to contact AAPs through their specific email addresses, due to Coronavirus working arrangements.

For further details about the support on offer to communities and businesses in County Durham, visit www.durham.gov.uk/coronavirus

To request help or to volunteer for County Durham Together, contact [email protected] or call 03000 260 260.

£43 million paid to County Durham businesses as of yesterday

To date, the council has already supported 3,575 businesses, paying more than £43 million and expects to exceed £50 million of payments by 5pm yesterday.
The grants are either £10,000 or £25,000, depending on the size of the company, and do not need to be repaid.
They’re one-off payments designed to help small businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, many of which were the first to close.

Heather Harker-Smith, who runs the bridal boutique Alice Elizabeth in Coxhoe, said: “I applied for the grant last Friday morning and it was with me by the afternoon. I can now continue to pay my bills and staff wages as normal.”

Angela Warner, who owns Isabella’s Coffee Shop in Shotley Bridge, said: “It was so easy to apply for the grant. I’ve already helped another business in the village to apply for theirs and I would encourage any other eligible business to apply.

“Without it, I would have had to lay off my staff. Two of those couldn’t afford to live without their wage and our bills would have also continued so it’s made such a difference to receive the grant so quickly.

Delivered loads of fun packs direct to vulnerable families

A local authority’s family service is helping vulnerable children to do creative things with their families during the lockdown, by delivering fun packs direct to their door.

Staff from Durham County Council’s One Point Service, including its team at Seaham, have created the art and craft packs to help children get creative at home, whilst some schools are shut.

Each pack includes a fairy door to decorate, drawing and colouring-in materials, Play-Doh, bubbles, card and glue, as well as a list of 100 ideas for things to do, and useful websites for online reading and learning.

One Point workers are calling to leave the fun-filled parcels at a safe distance on families’ doorsteps, avoiding all unnecessary contact.

Sarah Jeary, One Point Team Manager for Seaham and Durham Central area, said: “Unfortunately, not all families are lucky enough to have lots of resources at home to keep children entertained, so we created the craft packs to provide those families with some extra support.

“We are encouraging families to use the packs to complete activities together and have fun. Studies have shown that taking part in creative activities can help keep your brain and body healthy, and can give people’s mental health a boost. The feedback from families which have already received their delivery has been fantastic, and we’re now looking to develop some academic work packs for families to use in their homeschooling too.”

Staff in One Point teams have also been replenishing their essential supplies, so they can help families with which they have been working, which are most in need.

County Durham’s One Point family centres and hubs, which support children, young people and families by offering advice and practical help across all aspects of family life, are currently closed until further notice, in line with government guidance. However, the service is still available to offer countywide advice, guidance and signposting to other services over the phone on 03000 261 111.

Staff across the service have been contacting families to explain how they can support them during the coronavirus outbreak.

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