North Yorkshire County Council has launched a new initiative aimed at supporting and strengthening communities…
The Stronger Communities initiative will support empowered and vibrant communities to provide a range of services. It is hoped the scheme will help people to utilise local assets, prevent loneliness, support troubled families, and contribute to healthier lifestyles.
North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive Member for Stronger Communities and Public Health, Councillor David Chance, said: “There is a marvellous community spirit in North Yorkshire, and this programme is all about encouraging that, and harnessing it, so that communities can be enabled to overcome the impact of reductions in government funding.
“We have already seen some great examples of this – in libraries now run by volunteers with the support of the council council’s professional staff, in community-run public transport operations like the hugely successful Little White Bus service in the Dales.
“Stronger Communities is about encouraging and enabling people to extend this philosophy in other areas where cutbacks are biting, and helping to alleviate the negative consequences of them.”
The initiative will be run by a Stronger Communities team, alongside a delivery manager in each of the seven districts. A number of projects have been supported with grant funding.
Chase added: “North Yorkshire County Council’s funding from central government has been severely curtailed in the austerity measures introduced to tackle the national financial deficit,” added Councillor Chance.
“For every £100 the council had five years ago, it now has to make do with £66.
“That is a substantial reduction, and has inevitably impacted on services, despite the council’s policy of targeting cuts on its own bureaucracy in the first instance.
“This initiative is our way of saying – OK, there is less money, but if we pull together and maximise the tremendous community spirit of the people of North Yorkshire, we can ensure our towns and villages remain vibrant and prosperous.”
The team has four key priority areas it will focus on. This includes libraries; services for children, young people, and families; community transport; and services to help people live independently. Projects in these areas have already been supported by grants of up to £15,000.
Some of the projects supported include Pateley Bridge, which received funding towards the conversion of a former fisheries building into a new community library and tourist information point. Kirby Grindalythe is working on a pilot programme for a monthly village hall luncheon club.
Settle is undertaking a digital outreach programme and volunteer recruitment at Craven Volunteer Centre and Ryedale Farmers’ Breakfasts is a social group for retired farmers aimed at reducing loneliness and isolation.