FIFTEEN community organisations that have made an “immeasurable difference” during the pandemic shared a total of £16,000 at a prestigious youth awards ceremony last night.

The High Sheriff Awards, organised by County Durham Community Foundation, went ahead as a virtual event online after attracting an overwhelming number of entries.

This year’s High Sheriff, David Gray, said: “The winners, and many more across the county, make an immeasurable difference, by being willing to take part, look after each other, and think about how they can help their communities. They are the future.”

The awards, compered by former Northern Echo editor, Peter Barron, were sponsored by Sir James Knott Trust: Durham Constabulary; the Durham Office of the Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner; and UK Steel Enterprise; and also supported by Durham Shopping Extravaganza.

The biggest winner of the night was a County Durham project that has proved a lifeline to young people during the coronavirus crisis. In awarding the top prize of £2,500, the judges said the Brandon Carrside Youth and Community project had “never missed a beat despite the global pandemic”.

As well as delivering activity packs and carrying out welfare checks, the project development a huge online offering, including cookery sessions, a wellbeing programme, and art sessions.

The team also worked with schools and care homes, handed out summer craft packs to schoolchildren, offered food and activities to vulnerable families, and ran face-to-face support for high need young people.

The project also staged Halloween and Christmas parties online, created a festive ‘elf door’ trail for families, and arranged 83 Christmas presents for those who would have gone without.

Meals and activities were also organised for older residents, with plans to continue the support after the pandemic.


  • Brandon Carrside Youth and Community Project - £2,500.
  • Durham Christian Partnership - £1,500: Based in Stanley, the group provides a one-to-one mentoring programme for 11-16-year-olds who are at risk of exclusion and offending.
  • Synthonia Scout Group - £1,500:  The pandemic inspired the troop to get creative, with leaders organising weekly sessions online, culminating with a virtual Christmas sleepover, with activities for every age group.
  • Durham Area Youth - £1,500: Worried about young people without access to digital devices and online services, the group made hundreds of activity packs to help young people occupy their minds during the lockdown.4
  • Dawdon Youth and Community Centre - £1,000: The project became a lifeline for children and young people in Seaham. Activities included youth sessions, and a pen pal befriending scheme for elderly people shielding from the virus.
  • Sacriston Youth Project - £1,000:  The project founded ‘Food For Thought’ in response to the pandemic, supporting the village with care packs, prescription collections, information, and hot food delivery.
  • Jack Drum Arts - £1,000: The group demonstrated the power of young people by staging 145 ‘doorstep’ musical performances over the past year, entertaining care home residents, isolated people, vulnerable families, and day centres for adults with special educational needs. More than 800 craft activity packs were also delivered, collections for food banks were organised, and hand-made Christmas cards produced for vulnerable residents in care homes.
  • Oxhill Youth Club - £1,000: The club made a major contribution to deterring anti-social behaviour by running games and chats online. In December, the young people and their families sang Christmas songs outside two care homes in Stanley.
  • Teesdale Community Resources - £1,000:  Young volunteers cooked and delivered meals and care packages to vulnerable residents. At Christmas, thanks to their efforts, 3,000 people donated food, and the young people dressed as elves for doorstep visits.
  • Pelton Community Association - £1,000: Through the summer holidays, this project fed 50 families and children under financial pressure but not eligible for free school meals. At Christmas, 118 hampers were delivered.
  • Daisy Arts - £1,000: Throughout lockdown, the Bishop Auckland arts organisation delivered 1,680 handmade activity packs to families.
  • Spectrum Roller Skating Club - £500: Despite the lockdown, the club has continued to offer regular opportunities to exercise on and off skates.
  • Manilla Cycling - £500:  By moving to an online training platform, the Hartlepool club helped young people to socialize while cycling.
  • Eldon Grove Tennis Club - £500: The Hartlepool club has worked with a number of ‘looked after’ young people who have faced hardship or bullying, as well as young people with disabilities.
  • Young Girls Project - £500: Run by the Just For Women centre, in Stanley, the project continued to support ‘at risk’ girls facing issues such as abuse, grooming, and bullying.