THE final round of a popular fund for community groups in County Durham is now open, with applications invited for funds of up to £5,000 for projects that can show a link between place, arts and heritage and people.

The fund is being managed by County Durham Community Foundation on behalf of Northern Heartlands, the Durham Great Place Scheme – which in turn is funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England.

There have already been three rounds of the fund with 33 separate projects having been awarded a total of £206,477 between them. In this final round, a remaining £69,148 is available and the team at Northern Heartlands are keen to see this public money spent in the best way possible.

“We will be prioritising groups who have not had funding from us in the past,” said director Jill Cole. “The Northern Heartlands area covers almost half of the county and we’re aware that the money is there to benefit communities right across our patch. This includes the more isolated villages of the Upper Dales as well as the towns and villages of some of the former coalfield areas."

Groups who have secured funds from the Northern Heartlands scheme in the past include Weardale-based Altogether Archaeology, the Evenwood, Ramshaw & District History Society, a community group in Tow Law, Willington Primary School and the North Pennines Astronomy Society.

Projects have been extremely varied, ranging from a play involving young people in Hamsterley Forest, an art group in Thornley working with professional artists, and a new fabric design being created based on the history and heritage of the area.

One project supporting students at St John’s RC School in Bishop Auckland involved every pupil at the school in a varied programme of activity linking with the landscape.

For more information, contact info@northernheartlands.org, call 01833-200220 or to find out more head to northernheartlands.org