Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Durham community hall gets funding for energy-saving improvements

A community hall used as a “warm hub” to help people in the winter has received £11,000 to become more energy efficient.

St Aidan’s Parish Hall in Framwellgate Moor near Durham has gained funding from local councillors as it needs roof insulation, low-energy LED lighting and double glazing.

Work on the energy-saving measures at the hall – which is part of a new network of warm spaces – will start in the coming weeks.

Lib Dem county councillors Amanda Hopgood, Mamie Simmons and Mark Wilkes have provided money towards the costs.

They helped with £11,000 of neighbourhood budget and area action partnership funds, while the church hall committee secured funding from Churches Together and have bids in for more grants.

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Cllr Wilkes, who worked closely with the church hall committee, said: “It’s absolutely essential that we make our community buildings as energy efficient as possible.

“Over the years we have provided funding for our other local community centres for solar panels and insultation.

“St Aidan’s Parish Hall is a well-used facility and this winter it is also one of the warm hubs which have been set up by the county council.

“Making sure the cost of running these halls is as low as possible is really important,” added Cllr Wilkes, who is Durham County Council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change.

The warm hub at St Aidan’s is open on Thursday mornings from around 10am and is free for anyone to attend, with hot drinks and a free bacon butty available. The centre also runs a kitchen drop-in cafe.

Council leader Cllr Amanda Hopgood said: “It’s a really good facility with wonderful volunteers and feels like a really warm and friendly place to call in for a chat.

“It’s great to be able to help to improve our local community buildings. The council has also made some grants available through Durham Community Action to help community halls to become more energy efficient.”

Councillor Mamie Simmons said: “For older people who are inside their homes most of the day, this is a great opportunity to get out and meet people for a chat and a hot drink.

“The council’s warm spaces are opening up across the county at the moment with help from Durham County Council with running costs.”

The councillors, who represent Framwellgate and Newton Hall, have also provided £3,000 to Framwellgate Moor Youth and Community Centre towards additional solar panel installation.

The council is working with the County Durham Community Foundation to offer funding to voluntary and community groups to create a network of safe, trusted, warm spaces.

These are provided to support residents through the winter amid rising energy and living costs and direct people to financial support and energy efficiency advice. The council’s 39 library buildings are joining the scheme.

A pot of £200,000 is available to support organisations, which can apply for grants up to £1,000 for a warm space.

Cllr Alan Shield, cabinet member for equality and inclusion, said: “We know that many of our residents are already feeling the pressure because of the rising cost of living.

“With many expected to struggle this winter, we want to do all we can to support the creation of warm spaces and ease the burden on anyone who is experiencing food and fuel poverty.

“Community groups and organisations are already doing a fantastic job in planning and setting up these warm spaces. Our funding will help to ensure as many residents as possible can benefit from these warm and safe environments.

“We would encourage groups to apply for a grant so we can work together for the benefit of our communities.”

Foundation chief executive Michelle Cooper said: “Communities are in great need, and we are pleased that we can support this fund by adding match funding thanks to our generous supporters.”