Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 13.28.46Further funding is open to green-fingered groups in County Durham to help them spruce up their communities.

Durham County Council is making up to £500 available to organisations to put towards environmental improvements.

Anyone who would like to apply for the cash must be willing to take part in the Royal Horticultural Society’s It’s Your Neighbourhood scheme, which gives smaller community groups the chance to get involved in the wider Britain in Bloom activities.

The free initiative also allows volunteer-led gardening groups to take part in projects that are relevant to local issues, such as cleaning up a park, revamping a run-down back lane or adding floral or planting displays to outdoor open spaces.

The second round of funding comes after the council awarded up to £500 to 27 projects earlier this year as part of the It’s Your Neighbourhood scheme.

One of the schemes to benefit was Shincliffe Parish Horticultural Group, which has been involved in a number environmental improvements and sustainable developments.

Members wanted to build on this by populating the old mine site in High Shincliffe with ethically-sourced English wildflowers but they did not have the resources.

Thanks to the funding the group was able to carry out the project working closely with staff and children from Shincliffe Primary School.

Angela Lee, Shincliffe Parish Horticulture Group chairman, said: “The project has had a positive impact on the local area by encouraging children to take an interest in, and responsibility for, environmental and community matters. 

“It has also strengthened local community engagement and the parish commitment to sustainable planting in the area.”

Other examples of schemes which were awarded funding included a community garden, conservation of a closed burial ground and planting of wildflowers, bulbs and shrubs and planting of fruit trees and fruit hedges to encourage people to grow food and promote wildlife.

All the projects will be recognised at an It’s Your Neighbourhood ceremony this month.

Any groups wishing to apply for the funding will receive guidance and support from the council’s Civic Pride and Clean and Green teams.

Cllr Brian Stephens, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, Durham County Council, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to make a positive change to the place they live, work or spend their leisure time.

“We would encourage any community groups in the county wanting to make a positive change to their environment to apply for the funding.”

Applications are open between 1 October and 13 November 2015 – forms can be downloaded at www.durham.gov.uk/itsyourneighbourhood or you can email civicpride@durham.gov.uk or call 03000 261 000.