THOUSANDS of pounds is up for grabs by community groups in the Bishop Auckland area.

Grants of between £300 and £3,000 are offered by The Gaunless Gateway Partnership, to support groups with initiatives that will have a positive impact on their community and its people.

The Partnership is a community-based organisation which represents parts of Cockton Hill, Henknowle, Woodhouse Close, Tindale Crescent, St Helen’s and West Auckland.

With £1m from the Lottery Community Big Local Fund, it works on projects that aim to have a positive and lasting impact on those areas.

In a ten-year period it aims to deliver sustainable improvements by creating new jobs, improving health and wellbeing, addressing crime and community safety issues, providing activities for children and young people and bringing different generations together.

On Saturday, it opens the next round of funding with an information day for potential applicants.

Lee Brownson, chairman of the Gaunless Gateway Partnership, said: “One part of the support is the Gaunless Gateway Small Grants Fund which provides eligible organisations and projects with grants of between £300 and £3,000 that help meet the objectives set by our local communities.

“There is no specific list of eligible activities and the grants may be used for purchase of equipment, services, training or events among others, as long as the key objectives are met.”

Additional funds have been provided by County Durham Community Foundation (CDCF) and community groups could create a larger project by sourcing additional funds themselves.

South Durham Enterprise Agency (SDEA) acts as the Locally Trusted Organisation (LTO) to provide management support.

Mr Brownson added: “Over the last two years we have supported 43 activities delivered by 35 community groups and given a total of £87,000.

“We know that these small grants can make huge difference by positively impacting on the lives of people engaging in a wide range of activities. We wish to encourage eligible groups and organisations to apply, to try something new or make what they do even better.”

To qualify, an organisation must be a not for profit, voluntary or community group, or a registered charity or Community Interest Company and have a governing document, constitution or set of rules.

It needs to be located within the Gaunless Gateway Partnership area or be able to demonstrate that at least 60 per cent of beneficiaries are from those areas.

An open information event– at which people can find out more, discuss project ideas and meet residents who sit on the decision-making group– will be held at Henknowle Community Centre, Cumbria Place, Bishop Auckland, on Saturday, May 18, from 10am to noon.

Durham Community Action will support the event with hints and tips for fundraising and will carry out a ‘live’ demonstration of the Durham4Community online tool.

For details or an application pack visit, email, call 01388-776688 or visit Innovation House, 26 Longfield Road, South Church Enterprise Park.

The closing date for applications in this round is Friday, June 28 at 4pm.