Community centres in County Durham, which are helping their local area to recover from Covid, are set to receive hundreds of thousands of pounds in funding.
Venues around the county, which offer vital activities and services, will be invited by Durham County Council to apply for grants which will support them to open safely in the wake of the pandemic.
Hundreds of sites will be approached by the council’s Partnerships and Community Engagement Team and encouraged to register for a one-off payment from the Covid Outbreak Management Fund.
A total of £734,000 will be available through the fund, which is part of the Government’s wider Contain Outbreak Management Fund, to enable valued centres to open safely and provide essential services to support their local communities.
Following countywide consultation with the council’s 14 Area Action Partnerships, a total of 190 community facilities have been identified as eligible to claim funding, including buildings for which the council is landlord and those which are community owned and managed.
An additional 44 centres provided by social housing providers will also be invited to apply for grants, to support the costs of reopening communal rooms and encouraging the community to return to use them.
Faith centres which provide non-religious community activities will receive a £75,000 share of the funding and will be contacted directly by North East Churches Acting Together, which will process applications which meet the criteria.
Cllr Mark Wilkes, the council’s cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and Climate Change, including community facilities, said: “These venues contribute massively to the wellbeing of communities across our county.
“It is fantastic that this money is available to support them to open and operate safely.
“By receiving funding to make the necessary changes to create Covid-safe spaces, these centres will play a key role in minimising community transmission by offering a secure place for activities as we learn to live with Covid.
“The grant can be used to cover a range of costs involved in ensuring spaces are available for safe community use and will, hopefully, relieve some of the apprehension felt by the buildings’ management committees about reopening in the face of a reduced income.”
Centres can use the funding that they receive to cover a range of costs, including:
• increased cleaning costs
• replacing loss of income through meeting Covid restrictions, such as reduced capacity in activities
• the cost of extra staffing to facilitate adapted services
• additional equipment such as movable plastic screening or surface coverings and personal protective equipment
• a contribution to more permanent adaptions to touch points or floor coverings and furniture
• building running costs
Further information about the Covid Outbreak Management Fund is available from https://www.durham.gov.uk/article/26048/Helping-community-centres-to-recover-from-Covid-19