Nearly 30 homes designed to help people in east Durham onto the property ladder have been snapped up within hours of reservations opening.
The m!ne ‘Rent to Buy’ houses are being constructed on the site of a long-demolished working men’s club in Easington Village by believe housing. The 29 high-spec two, three and four-bedroom family homes were all reserved just days after they were released for reservation.
Development Manager at believe housing, Tom Winter, said: “We thought that these homes would be popular, but we had no idea of just how strong the demand would be. This is the biggest rent to buy project we’ve created so far, and it’s also been the quickest we’ve ever reached full reservation.
“We’re already looking at how we can accelerate the next phase in an effort to meet the demand that obviously exists. Hopefully many of the families who missed out this time around won’t have too long to wait for another chance to reserve their ideal new home.
“Easington Village is becoming a very popular location. These homes will be at the heart of the community, transforming this site and making great places to live.
“For many people in the north east, rent to buy is the easiest and most attainable way to get onto the property ladder. It brings together the best parts of home ownership and affordable living into one package.”
They are part of a 96-home development on the Seaside Lane site which commenced in September and is being delivered by main contractor, Esh Construction. The £11m project will also see a new public open space at the heart of the new community, creating a ‘village green’ feel. Read On
A new partnership between believe housing and the independent charity Crimestoppers is aiming to keep communities stretching from the Durham coast to upper Weardale safer.
believe housing has become the first housing association in County Durham to act as a ‘Community Ambassador’ for Crimestoppers. The new collaboration is aimed at increasing confidence to encourage residents to report what they know about crime completely anonymously.
The Crimestoppers Community Ambassador programme is designed to increase awareness of Crimestoppers through partnership with businesses, public authorities, other charities and agencies. Acting as Ambassadors, they enable Crimestoppers to spread the word about its unique service guaranteeing anonymity to help protect people, places and communities from the harm caused by crime.
Crimestoppers exists to help people who might otherwise be silenced into speaking up about what they know about crime, 100% anonymously. Always.
The link-up is the latest move by believe housing to work with customers and communities on issues ranging from fires to domestic abuse. The Seaham-based housing association has been nationally recognised for its sector leading work on community safety.
Jonathan Hamill, Chair for Crimestoppers in Durham and Darlington, said: “We are delighted to announce believe housing as our first Community Ambassador in County Durham. As one of the largest housing associations in the North East of England, believe Housing is ideally placed to promote awareness of our charity.
“Their vision of believing in a life without barriers is well aligned with ours of helping everyone to feel safe from crime. We are excited about developing a strong partnership and making a real difference for local residents.”
Ian Porter, Director of Neighbourhoods and Customer Services at believe housing, said: “This new partnership will help us to make our customers feel safer when it comes to reporting issues that are affecting their lives. We know that anonymity is of the utmost importance when dealing with issues in communities, particularly in the tight-knit neighbourhoods we have across the north east.
“I hope we’ll be able to increase confidence in all parts of the community that reporting issues is at the very heart of making our neighbourhoods safer and better places for everyone to live.”
Crimestoppers and believe housing will be working closely with a number of communities during the year on known issues such as illegal quads and motorbikes. Both organisations also have plans to increase their work with young people and schools to ensure that they have the confidence to report crime and antisocial behaviour.
Sunderland AFC’s official charity, Foundation of Light has been chosen as local housing association Livin’s partner to deliver tailored employability support to its communities.
Livin has a longstanding track record of supporting tenants into work and over many years its Livin Futures employability service has helped hundreds of people into jobs, further education or training.
This year, in challenging circumstances, its employability team has helped over 140 tenants into a range of jobs, and supported many others to improve their skills, apply for jobs and prepare for interviews.
Livin aim to broaden its support to tenants with the help of community partner Foundation of Light, who it has previously worked with to deliver successful family programmes in schools, and youth work in local communities. The Foundation is one of the leading providers of employability programmes in the region, delivering employability skills for nearly 800 people and enabling over 400 people to gain qualifications across its many programmes.
The new partnership project, ‘better skills better chances’, will deliver mentoring programmes for Livin tenants affected by redundancy; develop new links with employability partners; deliver practical solution to help overcome barriers into employment and bring new innovation and reskilling opportunities.
Working virtually at the moment and face to face in the future, the Foundation of Light will introduce new training courses to Livin’s local communities including certificates in work skills, digital skills, health and safety, manual handling, dementia care and teaching. Courses can be tailored and changeable depending on the needs of tenants.
Community groups have just weeks left to apply for grants from a successful County Durham funding programme.
Food banks, sports clubs, schools and charities are being urged to apply for the last batch of grants from believe housing’s community funding programme before the end of the financial year. The funding, tailored to help communities during the coronavirus pandemic, has already distributed more than £150,000 during the year.
Four £1,000 grants remain unallocated from the Coronavirus Crisis Fund programme directed at community groups in most of County Durham, and some surrounding areas. Groups who keep vulnerable people connected and provide help with food at a time when many people are seeing new financial difficulties are among those that could benefit.
Community Investment Team Leader at believe housing, Angela Stobbart, said: “We’ve had hundreds of funding applications this year, and we’ve been able to help the vast majority of groups who we’ve spoken to. But there’s still a last chance for groups to apply for support before the financial year is over.
“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.”
Projects that have already received support include foodbanks, initiatives that help vulnerable people with shopping and schemes that assist families with food when 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 follows the same model as believe housing’s hugely successful community grant programme. 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 are eligible to apply for funding again under the crisis fund alongside groups that have not previously been given 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.
A north east funding programme that supports community groups including food banks, sports clubs and mental health projects has passed a major milestone.
believe housing’s Community Investment Programme has awarded £150,000 of grants in the last nine months. More than 95 grants have been awarded, ranging from a few hundred pounds to nearly £20,000.
The funding programme has been busier than ever during the coronavirus pandemic; assisting groups to respond, and recover, from the various restrictions to combat Covid-19.
One organisation to benefit from funding is CALM in East Durham, which received £17,874 for two projects to tackle mental health and loneliness issues. Using group arts and crafts activities, or yoga techniques the initiative encourages participation and reduces isolation while providing opportunities to make new friends.
During the coronavirus pandemic the activities have been delivered remotely, including yoga sessions by video call. In the Christmas period alone, members also created more than 90 hampers for vulnerable people and key workers as a group activity.
Another initiative that has received a grant is the Little Chef, Big Chef Community Pantry, based in St Helen Auckland. The project was set up to tackle poverty and reduce waste by better use of food and offering low cost items to the local community.
During the pandemic the project initially moved to a delivery only model, but is now able to offer safe on-site shopping (one customer at a time) from their pantry in St Helens Auckland Parish Hall every Monday and Friday from 10am to noon.
The pantry project has received two grants from believe housing’s funding programme, totalling £14,697.
Community Investment Team Leader at believe housing, Angela Stobbart, said: “We’re only nine months into our current round of funding, but to have hit the £150,000 figure so soon really demonstrates the demand for grants that exists.
“We’ve helped everything from food banks to table tennis clubs get through the pandemic and support their communities. We’re planning to continue with our focus on supporting communities during the pandemic as well as investing in longer term projects that can help neighbourhoods with their recovery and well into the future.”
Full details of grants from believe housing’s Community Funding Programme are available on the believe housing website, or by calling the Community Investment Team on 0300 1311 999.