David Tomlinson in Shildon Town Centre where "Shildon Alive' will be located.

 David Tomlinson, with St John's church backdrop.

David Tomlinson, with St John’s church backdrop.
A Church-led project in Shildon, in County Durham, has received £196,189 to develop its work within the local community. The money has been awarded by the Big Lottery Fund to the Shildon Alive project run by Saint John’s Church in the Anglican Diocese of Durham, and will fund a community worker to develop the project as well as allow the community team to create a shop-based office. The money comes from the Reaching Communities programme, which is for projects that help people and communities most in need. Grants are available from £10,000, upwards and funding can last for up to five years. Saint John’s Church receives £196,189 to improve the health, confidence and skills of more than 2,000 local people through gardening and work experience. The project is aimed at supporting people who may have poor physical and mental health through long-term unemployment, food poverty and a lack of facilities and activities. The church will provide two gardening spaces – one will be its existing garden – a second is currently an unused and neglected community garden. The gardens will be used to provide for a food bank and also used by members to grow their own food. The church will also take over a small unused shop unit in the town centre which will act as a community hub and a base for the food bank. Social events including community BBQs and coffee mornings will help to reduce the isolation felt by some people. Vicar The Revd David Tomlinson said: “Shildon Alive is about breathing life into a struggling community in a number of related ways. “Our current community garden project is morphing into two gardens, one at either end of town. These gardens will offer a lively community experience and be a vehicle for positive community development and enrichment through the events and activities. “The things being undertaken there are in direct response to community concerns about intergenerational breakdown, the fear of the young by the old, the loss of traditional skills, the high level of long-term sickness and poor health in the area, and the number of people in food poverty. “The gardens will be linked to a food aid project. Surplus food will go through the aid project and those coming for aid will have the opportunity to get involved in something that will undermine the isolation that chaotic or crisis-living often engenders. “Alongside the gardens, other initiatives being discussed including a community bank and furniture aid. “The bulk of the grant will pay for a full-time community development worker and the costs of the town centre ‘contact point’, a redundant shop unit in prime position. “The Contact Point will become the hub out which the spokes of community development will create strong foundations for a healthier town.” Big Lottery Fund spokesperson Alison Rowe said: “We are pleased to make a grant to Saint John’s Church to help local residents grow their own food and support a food bank to help struggling families who have hit hard times.” The Big Lottery Fund, the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery. The Fund is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 BIG has awarded close to £6bn. -ENDS-

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