A PARTNERSHIP of County Durham businesses has committed funds to support young people doing the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

The initiative is being led by Carillion Developments and Arlington Real Estate, the developers of DurhamGate on the former Black and Decker site, in Spennymoor. Other businesses involved in the £50,000 project include Thorn Lighting in Spennymoor, Sedgefield Borough Homes, building services firm NG Bailey, Bishop Auckland College and Spennymoor Area Action Partnership.

Durham County Council is also involved, while County Durham MPs Roberta Blackman-Woods, Helen Goodman and Phil Wilson have given it their backing. The new initiative will support a minimum of 50 young people in the first year.

The award aims to have a positive effect on the lives of young people by improving their skills, selfconfidence and career prospects.

Administered by Bishop Auckland College, DurhamGate will recruit young people from across the county.

A number of the first group will be identified by Sedgefield Borough Homes from among its communities. Alongside the programme founders, Friends of DurhamGate, Thorn Lighting, NG Bailey and the Spennymoor Area Action Partnership will support the programme through funding and providing work experience placements.

Carillion Developments director Neil McMillan said: “I am sure this initiative will ignite new ambitions in the participants and have a profound effect on their futures.”