Community groups and voluntary organisations have recently benefited from over £100,000 of grant funding to support community health projects left as a legacy to County Durham Community Foundation.

The NHS Health Improvement Fund managed by County Durham Community Foundation has recently awarded grants to 14 organisations based in County Durham and Darlington who run projects which support general health and wellbeing activities.

When the Primary Care Trusts for County Durham and Darlington closed in March 2013, they had residual charitable funds of £2 million which it determined should continue to benefit the local community for years to come. Since that time it had been transferring up to £200,000 per annum to the County Durham Community Foundation via the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys Foundation Trust (TEWV) who was guardian to the funds. The Community Foundation used this to distribute grants of up to £20,000 across two-year programmes to community groups working to improve health and wellbeing.

The remaining £1.6 million, held by TEWV has now been transferred to County Durham Community Foundation’s endowment to continue the programme over a number of years. The programme has now supported almost 60 projects with more than £600,000 across the region since 2013.

One of the projects to benefit from the latest round was Age UK Darlington who received a grant of £10,000 towards Active Ageing – health and wellbeing activities such as Pilates, sequence dancing and walks for individuals with dementia. This project will support older people (aged 50 and over) to lead healthier more active lives, with the aim of living well and independently for longer.

Michael Durkin from Age UK Darlington commented:

“We are glad to be working alongside the NHS Health Improvement Fund at County Durham Community Foundation in order to provide a social environment and activities for our customers. It is important to their welfare and health that they aren’t isolated and get support, and Age UK Darlington is doing a fantastic job of providing a place where customers can come and receive the support they need and take part in our activities. We aim to tackle issues that affect older people so they can enjoy a better quality of life and make sure they have the right information to make informed decisions about the things that are important to them.”

Barbara Gubbins, Chief Executive of County Durham Community Foundation said:

“The NHS Health Improvement Fund has enabled the Community Foundation to award larger grants to projects that are really trying to improve health outcomes. We have a very distinguished panel of health experts from across County Durham and Darlington, chaired by Miriam Davidson, Director of Public Health for Darlington Borough Council, so they really know what the issues are and what is already being commissioned. The programme is always over-subscribed so they have to make difficult choices.”