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Latest news

New crisis funding launched for communities

Published: Tuesday 28 April 2020

believe housing has announced new support for projects tackling isolation and financial hardship during the coronavirus outbreak.

At least £10,000 has been allocated to the Seaham-based housing association’s new Coronavirus Crisis Fund. The funding will be directed at community groups in most parts of County Durham, and some neighbouring areas, to keep vulnerable people connected and to provide help with food at a time when many people are seeing new financial difficulties due to the economic impact of the virus.

Projects that are expected to benefit include foodbanks, help with shopping for vulnerable people, and schemes that help families with food while free school meals are not available. Initiatives that look after wellbeing remotely, create virtual social groups or workshops and deliver activities for families are also likely to be awarded funding.

The Coronavirus Crisis Fund will follow the same model as believe housing’s hugely successful community grant programme. Two funding streams of up to £500 and up to £1,000 have been created for the new crisis fund. It is open be open to community groups or organisations and schools that work in areas covered by believe housing. A simple application process will be maintained to ensure that fast turnaround funding decisions can take place and get work underway.

Groups that have previously received funding from believe housing’s standard community investment scheme will be eligible to apply for funding again under the crisis fund alongside groups that have not previously been given support.

believe housing’s Community Investment Team Leader, Angela Stobbart, said: “We’re switching our funding focus to help as many people as possible during these unprecedented times. This new crisis fund has been designed specifically to help those that need it most, whether that is with support for their mental health or for their financial wellbeing. We’re taking applications immediately and we’re really keen to hear from any organisation in the area that is looking for backing to improve what they can do for their communities during the coronavirus outbreak.

“Whether you’ve worked with us before or have never thought about funding from believe housing, we’d really like to hear from you if you’ve got a relevant community project that needs support.”

Full details of the Coronavirus Crisis Fund are available on the believe housing website, or by calling the Community Investment Team on 0300 1311 999.

Coronavirus: DCC Community Hub

Published: Thursday 16 April 2020

We understand that  the coronavirus is making life very difficult for many people and it can be difficult to access the basics.  Many of you will be getting help and support from friends relatives or local support groups.

If you don't have anyone to pick up medication, please contact your community pharmacy and / or if you are unable to access support for help with essentials such as food supplies or someone who can listen to and support you, please contact us

If you are a local voluntary group, local business or other agency offering ot help in the community, why not join our community hub to help people find support in this time of crisis - it is free, just complete our form at or call 03000 260260.  You will receive a call to verify your details and your serve added to Locate.

Latest coronavirus information and advice is available at


DWP publishes coronavirus advice for claimants facing sanctions

Published: Tuesday 14 April 2020

They have insisted “discretion” will be used to stop people on benefits being penalised.

Universal Credit claimants have been told they won’t be penalised if they have to self-isolate with coronavirus.

Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for the DWP, said “discretion” will be used for people on benefits fearing sanctions for not turning up to job centre appointments.

In a statement, she said: “The department is fully prepared for all eventualities and has conducted extensive planning against reasonable worst-case scenarios.

Survey for proposed project at Canney Hill

Published: Monday 3 February 2020
Survey for proposed project at Canney Hill

Durham Community Action are supporting the CIC, Canney Communities, to undertake a Housing Needs Survey. We are seeking views on a proposed Project, a new build at a site in Canney Hill, Bishop Auckland. The scheme would be to create accessible housing to address the needs of disabled people and their families living in County Durham, but particularly Bishop Auckland. We are especially keen to prioritise the needs of young disabled people to live independently.

This survey will help provide us with essential guidance on the current housing opportunities and needs, helping the community to resist plans for development on inappropriate sites, but supporting development of the right type and in the right places.

If you would like to participate, please complete the survey via the link below.

For further information, please contact Durham Community Action – Tel:  01388 742040   Email:  

Social landlords to get direct payments of benefits under UC changes

Published: Tuesday 21 January 2020

The Department of Work and Pensions has written to housing associations to confirm the changes to the way Universal Credit is paid to social landlords.

The Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed they are testing a new system to pay social landlords direct payments of benefit.

This would see landlords receiving money from the DWP at the same time the tenant receives their Universal Credit payment.

Third Party Deductions for outstanding arrears will still be channeled through the four-weekly Third-Party Creditor schedule.

The idea is that if the test is successful, it would be fully rolled out to all social landlords in early 2020.