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Community groups and voluntary organisations across County Durham have benefitted from almost £40 million in grants during the past nine years.

The cash has been handed out through Durham County Council’s Area Action Partnerships, which have just awarded their 5,000th grant to King’s Church Durham – Achor Community.

The group, which aims to reduce social isolation and build community cohesion in the Sherburn Road area of Durham City, has received £10,450 from Durham AAP.

King’s Church is responsible for a range of initiatives including a befriending scheme, gardening service and the weekly Appleby Café luncheon club, which is run in conjunction with Laurel Avenue and Gilesgate Community Associations and meets at Laurel Avenue Community Centre.

The grant from Durham AAP will enable the group to significantly increase the hours of its outreach coordinator Ruth Morley, who oversees the projects, from eight per week to 24, meaning she will have more time to expand the group’s work.

Ruth said: “We are really thankful for the AAP funding, which will allow us to develop and grow our existing work with the elderly and isolated in the Sherburn Road area.

“The funding will help us invest in our befriending scheme, lunch club and gardening project to provide a real lifeline for those in our community who are elderly or socially isolated.”

AAPs were set up in 2009 with the aim of giving residents in County Durham a greater choice and voice in local affairs. They are also responsible for allocating thousands of pounds each year to community-led initiatives that support key priorities identified by local residents.

They also support the allocation of neighbourhood budgets, which are held by county councillors and are awarded to projects and initiatives in their individual wards.

Cllr Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, said: “The overall purpose of the grants handed out through our 14 AAPs is to support the improvement of the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of our communities.

“During the past decade, they have helped a wide variety of projects, ranging from installations at Lumiere Durham to covering running costs for grassroot community schemes, with everything in between, including summer holiday provision, nutrition support for children and young people, the mini police initiative and efforts to reduce the impacts of welfare reform.

“I am incredibly pleased that we have been able to help so many initiatives targeting such a wide range of topics, issues and activities, which have in turn helped thousands of people in all corners of our county.”

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