A CAMERA club, two supported-living schemes and a neighbourhood forum are the latest beneficiaries of a programme run by an award-winning arts and culture project.

The Cultural Spring’s Your Art Community Commissions programme has helped dozens of community groups over several years and for the latest round of support, organisers were looking to help South Tyneside and Sunderland organisations impacted by Covid restrictions get running at full capacity again.

The three beneficiaries chosen for support were selected by The Cultural Spring’s Community Champions and have each been paired with a Community Connector who provide support and advice.

The chosen organisations are: South Tyneside Camera Club; East Boldon Forum and Hagan Hall and Clasper Court supported-living schemes.

South Tyneside Camera Club is based at Chuter Ede in South Shields and meets every Tuesday night at 7pm. The group has been awarded £300 to help with marketing and promotion and Carol Cooke is working with the club as a Community Connector.

“I’ve met with the club, and they’re a lovely bunch of people, really friendly – and talented. I’m helping them with marketing so they can grow their membership,” explained Carol.

Rachel Dembry from the camera club said: “The funding and support is like a lifeline and will make a huge difference to the mental health and enjoyment of both current and future amateur photographers in South Tyneside.”

Hagan Hall and Clasper Court are retirement housing complexes run by South Tyneside Homes. Hagan Hall is in South Shields and Clasper Court is in Jarrow .

Together, they have been awarded £500 to support social activities at both homes.

Community Connector Jackie Nixon is working with the homes: “The Your Art support will help pay for materials for craft workshops, and for artists to come in and help run the sessions,” she said.

East Boldon Forum was established in 2017 with the intention of developing a neighbourhood plan and promoting positive messages about the area. The Your Art Community Commissions support is to help with the forum’s Beautiful Boldon Birds project.

The project ran a well-attended Wild Art session at East Boldon Junior School, and the commission of an oil painting of an avocet chick and its parents by local artist Heshika Attanyake. The support also helped promote a referendum on the East Boldon Neighbourhood Plan.

Community Connector Alison Dalton said: “The Your Art support for East Boldon Forum is helping to spread the word about what is great about the area, as well as supporting activities such as the Beautiful Boldon Birds project and the Wild Art session.”

The forum was awarded £500 of Your Art support.

Over the past few years, the Cultural Spring has invested more than £100,000 in dozens of local community groups through its Your Art Community Commissions scheme.

Emma Horsman, The Cultural Spring Project Director, explained: “Your Art has been helping community organisations throughout Sunderland and South Tyneside for many years, but for this latest round we were specifically looking to support community arts, cultural or creative groups who need some help to recover from the effects of Covid.

“Covid has affected communities in so many different ways and many very local community arts organisations – doing some great work – have suffered massively because of pandemic restrictions. We wanted to help these organisations find their feet again.”

The Cultural Spring is funded by Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places project and has five partners: University of Sunderland; the Customs House, South Shields; Sunderland’s Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust; Sangini, a women’s health organisation, and The Cultural Spring Charity.