Access issues at a busy County Durham church hall have been smoothed out thanks to a four-figure grant from a regional employer.
The pathway up to the entrance of Medomsley Methodist Church and its adjacent hall, which sit on Fines Road in the town, had become affected by an increasing number of potholes and other uneven areas, making it difficult for older people and those with mobility issues to access the buildings safely.
But now, a £3,000 grant from Banks Mining, part of the family-owned Banks Group, has enabled the church committee to get 120 square metres of the affected area resurfaced – and the work has already resulted in an increase in numbers at the community events held in the hall.
The funding has been provided from the community benefits fund linked to Banks Mining’s nearby Bradley surface mine, which aims to use revenues generated at the site to support capital projects being undertaken by local charities and good causes.
Medomsley Methodist Church hall hosts a wide variety of community organisations, including the local Girls’ Brigade, a mother and toddler group, carpet bowls club, a keep fit class and a memory cafe run by the dementia awareness group. A new book club has also recently been launched.
The Church also holds a coffee morning on the first and third Saturday mornings of each month, with the money raised at the third Saturday event going to charity.
A Methodist place of worship has stood on Fines Road since the 1870s, with the present church celebrating the 30th anniversary of its opening this year.
Winston Ridley, property secretary at Medomsley Methodist Church, said: “Older people make up a significant proportion of the users at our hall, and even those who use mobility scooters were finding it challenging to negotiate the potholes on our driveway.
“The resurfacing work has made an exceptional impact – we’ve already seen numbers rising at our weekly coffee mornings and we think it will encourage more people to come along to functions and events that might previously have been put off by the state of the roadway.
“With a lot of different responsibilities to meet, our budgets are always stretched, so gaining access to this generous funding from Banks has enabled us to use resources to meet other spending priorities.”
Banks Mining will direct around £50,000 of the revenues generated at the Bradley surface mine, which sits between Leadgate and Dipton, into the fund, with individual grants of up to £3,000 available to deserving local causes.
The Bradley community benefits fund is independently administered by the County Durham Community Foundation, and a funding committee comprised of community representatives is responsible for ensuring the money is spent in ways which meet local priorities.
Eligibility for funding is normally restricted to projects and activities within the closest communities to the Bradley site, which are Dipton, Leadgate and Medomsley, but projects in neighbouring areas may also be eligible if they can be shown to benefit people living within the closest communities.
Medomsley Methodist Church was recommended to apply to the Bradley community fund by local Durham County Councillor Alan Shield, who sits on the funding committee.
He says: “The Church is much more than just a religious venue – it provides a home for a wide range of structured community activities for people and makes a positive impact on the lives of local people of all ages.
“Smoothing out the pathway has been a very worthwhile exercise and we’re very pleased to have had access to the Bradley community fund to enable the work to be done.”
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, adds: “The Bradley community benefits fund is designed to bring tangible benefits to local people, and this is a great example of how it can be used to improve neighbourhood facilities.
“As well as generating money for the benefits fund and local employment opportunities, the high quality coal that is being produced at Bradley is helping to meet the UK’s continuing demand for it for a range of essential commercial, industrial and electricity generation needs, and is also reducing the country’s ever-increasing reliance on coal imports for meeting this enduring need.”
Projects, community groups, or voluntary organisations looking for grant funding from the Bradley Community Fund should contact the fund manager at the County Durham Community Foundation on 0191 378 6342 or visit www.banksgroup.co.uk/development-with-care/bankscommunityfund