Cornforth partnership celebrating 21st birthday with fresh new look for headquarters

April 5, 2019 | Community News

(from left) James Curry of the Cornforth Partnership's Youth Portal project, apprentice Declan Brady Green, Lewis Stokes of The Banks Group, young people and families project coordinator Rachel Weir and operations manager Tony Cutmore

The headquarters of a County Durham community charity is taking on a fresh new look for its 21st birthday.

The Cornforth Partnership provides a wide range of services which are designed to support people of all ages and abilities that live or work in Cornforth and the surrounding area, and to help create healthy, vibrant and aspirational local communities.

The charity delivers many of its services at its Cornforth House headquarters in the High Street, which hasn’t been redecorated since it first opened in the late 1990s.

But now, after being awarded a £5,000 grant from the Durham-headquartered Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund, as well as additional funding from the 4 Together Area Action Partnership, the charity has been able to repaint and re-carpet the entire building in time for its 21st birthday, which it will reach in May.

Several of the charity’s young service users were involved in choosing the colours and style in which the building was going to be redecorated, with a mural showing a number of local landmarks being included in the final design.

New furniture has been added into the seating areas around the building to make them more welcoming and comfortable, and the charity is expecting the refurbishment to help increase the number of people coming into the building, whether for participating in its various projects or hiring it for their own events.

Local decorator Martin Bear was commissioned to carry out the required work.

The Cornforth Partnership aims ‘to provide the right support in the right place at the right time’ and runs a range of different initiatives on topics such as health and well-being, employability and training, and the needs of children, young people and families.

A number of its services are delivered in community venues around the area, such as the Monday night youth club based at Bishop Middleham Village Hall and the B Network, which sees a team of staff and volunteers working to link vulnerable local residents to a range of social networks and activities.

The charity also runs a community allotment on the Parish Council’s allotment site, the produce from which is distributed locally via its food bank.

Tony Cutmore, operations manager at the Cornforth Partnership, says: “We try to deliver as many of our activities as we can at Cornforth House, so that we’re making the very best use we can of the space we have.

“The décor has inevitably started to show its age in recent years and the carpets that we’ve had in place since we opened have clearly needed replacing for some time, but with our priority being to invest in the services we provide, we simply wouldn’t have had the funds available to cover the cost of the required work without the generous support we’ve had from the Banks Community Fund.

“Getting some of our younger users involved in the redecoration gives them a real sense of ownership of the place and the landmarks mural really adds to the sense of community that we look to offer here.

“We’ve had so much positive feedback about how much better Cornforth House now looks and feels, and we’re already seeing more people accessing the building, a trend we hope to see continuing in the future.”

Previous funding provided by The Banks Group enabled the Partnership to turn an enclosed area of derelict land behind its Number 66 Youth Drop-In Centre into an outdoor space that is now used for barbecues, training initiatives and other events.

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “As a business that’s operated in West Cornforth since 1985, it’s wonderful to be able support our local community and to see Cornforth House looking so good after its refurbishment.

“Cornforth House plays such a vital role in the lives of so many local people, and we’re very pleased to be helping the Partnership mark it’s coming of age by supporting their invaluable work.”

The Banks Community Fund is administered by the County Durham Community Foundation and provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.

Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.

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