A community group for young people in a deprived part of County Durham is set to celebrate a happy new year after a four-figure grant nominated through the local branch of Newcastle Building Society secured the future of the services it provides for the next 12 months.
 
The Pelton Fell Community Partnership runs a wide variety of activities for children aged between seven and 12 years old during twice-weekly sessions at the Brockwell Centre on Craighead Road, which it manages on behalf of the local council.
 
The sessions are designed to give the children the chance to have a go at various activities which might not otherwise be accessible to them, and covers topics from cooking, art and craft through to life skills advice and support.
 
The funding which supported the Partnership’s provision of these services is due to run out in the near future, and there were concerns that it would no longer be possible to put them on.
 
But now, after being nominated by Eric Brown, a customer at Newcastle Building Society’s Front Street branch in Chester-le-Street, a £3,000 grant has been given by the Society to ensure they will be able to continue for at least the next 12 months.
 
The children taking part in the activities are involved in deciding what these should be, and as well as everything that takes place at the Brockwell Centre, the Partnership also puts on events at other locations, including picnics in the summer months and visits to local leisure facilities.
 
The funding has been provided by the Newcastle Building Society  Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which has been set up to provide grants to charities and community groups that are located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network, and put forward for support by its customers.
 
Since its launch in 2016, the Fund has contributed over £142,000 in grants to projects across the Society’s North East and Cumbria heartland, and is so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 77,000 people.
 
Pelton Fell Community Association works to engage the local community around three core areas – the environment, the social aspect of village life and the economic development of the area.
 
It has an environmental task group, supports local social enterprise through the provision of affordable rental space and also offers activities for older children and young adults.
 
Donna Brown, lead youth worker at Pelton Fell Community Association, says: “Our area is in the top 15 per cent in the UK in terms of deprivation, and a lot of the activities we offer are simply out of the financial reach for the families of the children who come along.
 
“As well as giving them something interesting to do and somewhere to go off the streets, our activities really help to build the children’s self-esteem and make them active members of the community.
 
“Giving them an input into the sorts of things we do gives them a real ownership of the sessions, and the enthusiasm they have for taking part shows how much they value their time here.
 
“The kids are over the moon that the money provided by Newcastle Building Society means that we’ll be able to carry on for at least another year, and we’re all already planning what sorts of things we’d like to do in 2018.”
 
Eric Brown, who is Donna’s father, adds: “Our family has been customers of Newcastle Building Society for around 40 years, and it seemed like a good idea to look for support for this project from their Community Fund.
 
“Without this grant, I think it would have been a real struggle to keep what is a well-attended initiative going, and the money that’s been given will have a massive impact on what Donna and her colleagues can do for local young people.”
 
The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.  Grant applications for a maximum of £3,000 can be made in any Society branch or via the newcastle.co.uk website by customers who wish to support their local communities.
 
Last year, the Fund provided a £1,000 grant to help Laurel Avenue Community Association to continue to put on the weekly Lunch Club that it runs for around 25 older people living on the Sherburn Road estate in Durham.
 
Sarah Colvil, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s Chester-le-Street branch, says: “The activities provided by the Pelton Fell Community Partnership have a hugely positive impact on the young people taking part in them, their families and the area as a whole.
 
“Supporting our communities is core to our values, and we’re very pleased to contribute to such a worthwhile local project.”