The Land of Oak & Iron is calling for community projects across Prudhoe and the Derwent Valley to apply for grants to support their initiatives before funding this round closes at the end of the month.
Through the County Durham Community FoundationCommunity Interest Companies (CICs), parish councils, schools and other community or special interest groups can apply for funding of up to £2,000, from the Land of Oak & Iron Community Grants Programme, to help support projects across a whole range of activities that will work to support the organisational aims of the Land of Oak & Iron.
 
Karen Daglish, Partnership Manager at the Land of Oak & Iron, said: “The Land of Oak & Iron is all about helping to preserve and protect the 177 km2 area surrounding the Derwent Valley including Consett, Rowlands Gill, Prudhoe and Whickham. It’s an area rich in woodland and natural habitats to explore, with a wealth of wildlife to discover and enjoy, as well as being home to areas of great industrial importance that once shaped the landscape.
 
“While we have an exceptional team managing the activities of the Land of Oak & Iron, we also rely on the work of volunteers and community groups to help create a lasting legacy for the area, so people can enjoy all that the Land of Oak & Iron has to offer for generations to come. There’s a lot of link-ups between what community projects are doing and what we’re doing in the area, so we’re pleased to be able to offer this financial support via the County Durham Community Foundation to ensure these initiatives can survive which in turn benefits this area on a wider scale.”
Relevant schemes which are eligible to apply for the grant include: physical improvements to features and buildings that are of significance in terms of the natural, industrial and cultural heritage of the Land of Oak & Iron; access improvements to enable more people to visit sites of natural, industrial and cultural heritage interest throughout the programme area; interpretation of the cultural heritage of the Land of Oak & Iron, particularly focusing on key people and stories associated with the area; activities and events that engage people with, and enable people to learn more about, the Land of Oak & Iron landscape and its history; research projects that enable a better understanding of the history of the Land of Oak & Iron such as community archaeology projects and the creation of community archives; and training, workshops and events that enable people to learn new skills that can be used to support the overall vision of the Land of Oak & Iron into the future.
 
Last year, Prudhoe & District Local History Society applied to the Land of Oak & Iron Community Grants Programme for financial assistance to support a sub group of volunteers working on a practical project to clear St Mary Magdalene Cemetery in Prudhoe for visitors to be able to explore and enjoy the historic site.
Since the successful funding application, the group has been very active in promoting the Land of Oak & Iron alongside its own project, while supporting other community events such as last year’s Chopwell WoodFest.  Further to the financial support, due to the nature of Prudhoe & District Local History Society’s project, the Land of Oak & Iron has also been able to support the scheme with practical help from the Land of Oak & Iron Woodland Volunteer Team, which meets weekly in and around Prudhoe and by advertising Prudhoe & District Local History Society’s volunteer opportunities around the St Mary Magdalene Cemetery project.
Karen concluded: “We really do take a very proactive and collaborative approach to working with different projects across the Land of Oak & Iron and the community grants programme is just one element of this. We’re looking forward to receiving more applications than ever before this year, so we can help to support other worthwhile causes in the community while strengthening the visitor offer and creating a lasting legacy of the Land of Oak & Iron.”
The Land of Oak & Iron Landscape Partnership is a four-year programme of events and activities, supported by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and hosted by environmental regeneration charity Groundwork NE & Cumbria.  Comprised of 14 inter-connected projects with partners including Durham Wildlife Trust, Tyne Rivers Trust and the local authorities of Durham, Gateshead and Northumberland, the Land of Oak & Iron offers superb parking, cafés, facilities, access and events too.
 
The Land of Oak & Iron Community Grants Programme closes on Wednesday 28th March.  For more information, people can visit http://www.cdcf.org.uk/apply-for-a-grant/grants-for-groups/the-land-of-oak-and-iron-community-grants-programme where they can also apply to the fund online.