A total of £14,950 has been awarded.

Northumberland National Park Authority has awarded a total of £14,950 to support eight community projects in and around the Park, thanks to its Northumberland National Park Communities Fund.

In 2021, Northumberland National Park Authority launched its grant scheme offering funding towards projects that demonstrate a positive contribution towards the Park’s key aims. These aims include: making the Park accessible for everyone, and highlighting the unique qualities of the Park including its cleanest rivers, darkest skies and rich heritage. The Community Fund is supporting those who live and work in and around the Park to conserve and enhance the landscape, helping people contribute to the future of the Park and their communities.

So far eight applicants have been successful in receiving funding, with the deadline for the next round of applications in June 2022. The successful projects include: Northumberland Wildlife Trust (Red Squirrels Northern England), The Friends of Harbottle Castle, Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership (TVCRP), Greenhead Parish Council (Tipalt Wetlands Project), Haltwhistle Partnership (Haltwhistle Living Landscapes), Cycling Minds CIC (Cycling Minds Project), Miscreations Theatre Ltd (The Wilding Theatre Project) and Wark Parish Council (Stonehaugh Activity and Play Centre).

Jean Davidson, Northumberland National Park Chair, said: “It has been a pleasure to see so many fantastic community projects come forward in and around Northumberland National Park, and it’s incredible to see so many of them working towards addressing issues around climate change, nature recovery and access to the countryside for everyone.

“We’re lucky to live in or close to one of England’s finest landscapes and we understand the value of helping our local communities and organisations, especially following the pandemic and recent storms.

“As an Authority, we’re proud that communities are as passionate as we are to continue ensuring the Park is a unique and special place for current and future generations to enjoy.”

Cycling Minds is a project which aims to provide young people, particularly those experiencing poor mental health, social exclusion, homelessness and poverty, with access to e-bikes to explore the Northumberland countryside, to help enhance their physical and mental wellbeing. The project will also serve as a springboard for the development of a permanent community cycle hub. The money received from Northumberland National Park’s Community Fund will be used to set up a workshop for bike repairs and storage.

Toby Price of Cycling Minds said: “It was a real boost to receive the grant from Northumberland National Park Authority, especially as it was the first grant we applied for. We can’t wait to start exploring the National Park and its environs with our young beneficiaries and have already discussed with The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre about how we can work together to organise joint e-bike rides. We aspire to inspire our young people to enjoy everything the Northumberland countryside has to offer, and we are very grateful to the Park Authority for joining us on our journey to achieving this.”

five volunteers stood with bicycles, the team behind the project Cycling Minds

The Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE) project protects red squirrels by helping people understand why red squirrels are under threat and why action is needed to help protect them. By working with local communities and volunteers, the project encourages local involvement including monitoring woodlands, to better understand where red squirrels live so they can take action to conserve them. The funding from the grant scheme will be used towards helping sustain efforts to conserve red squirrel populations in the corridor between Bellingham and Falstone, which includes sites within Northumberland National Park including Hareshaw Linn.

Heinz Traut, Project Manager at RSNE said: “Local efforts have halted hundreds of grey squirrels from settling in the area and hence the reason we still have healthy reds here. However, there is still a regular flow of greys from the south. If you’re able to volunteer, whether it’s to survey local woods or help raise awareness of the red squirrel’s plight, the team at RSNE would love to hear from you.”

The ‘Friends of Harbottle Castle’ project aims to engage with local people from Harbottle, Coquetdale and Redesdale to further raise or create an awareness of the long history and heritage of the area, with a particular focus on Harbottle Castle and its community during the medieval times. The funding will go towards the creation of a virtual ‘visitor centre’, walk and cycle guides and public engagement events. John Sadler from Friends of Harbottle Castle said: “The project helps people to understand and develop an interest in the castle, but also to see how the built environment reflects a long and turbulent history and how this is firmly rooted in the whole history and ecology of Redesdale.”

Applications are currently open for the next round of the Northumberland National Park Communities Fund. The closing date is Monday 27 June 2022 at 5pm. To register interest and receive more information about how to apply, contact: communitiesfund@nnpa.org.uk.