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Two Community Impacting Projects Show Future Sparks

DURHAM, England, November 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

Two community involvement projects, collectively awarded £55,000 by unique social funding initiative Future Sparks, have been recognised by the judges at the North East Community Impact awards.

     (Photo: )

The Consett based Social Housing Enterprise Durham (SHED) and Westfield Farm, in Redcar, were shortlisted in the Brighter Future category of the National Housing Federation Community Impact awards for their work tackling unemployment and financial exclusion amongst residents.

Both schemes were praised for providing opportunities and unlocking potential for residents to gain vital skills.

SHED, announced as the winner of the award, was commended for providing work and training in areas including painting, decorating, gardening, fencing and general building maintenance for local people who had been out of work for long periods.

Derwentside Homes' Chief Executive, Geraldine Wilcox, said: "SHED is an innovative project which is not only changing the lives of the trainees; but benefiting the local community and unemployment rates at the same time."

The Westfield Farm project, developed by Coast & Country, transformed a derelict listed farmhouse into a community hub for employment and skills activities by encouraging volunteering by staff and contractors to carry out the work. Local contractors and suppliers supported the project by donating both time and physical resources. The farm is used to train local unemployed people - giving them the chance to learn new skills and hopefully find work.

Chief Executive of Coast & Country, Iain Sim, said: "Not only has the project helped residents to take up training, work or volunteering opportunities, it has also been a benefit to the community as everyone has pulled together to create a hub that can be used for a number of different things."

Both projects were funded by North East Procurement's Future Sparks Fund. The fund is created by and available for all members of NEP - a group of social housing landlords who work together to purchase materials and labour at the best available cost.

When the housing providers purchase labour or materials through the organisation's framework, a percentage of the money they save is given to the Future Sparks fund.

Tracey Peggie, Employment Initiatives Manager, said: "NEP is proud to be associated with both of these great projects. The Future Sparks fund was created to support members with innovation and employability initiatives at a time when other funding sources are being removed. NEP members not only enjoy significant savings and efficiencies across numerous frameworks, but this additional funding ensures the best support options are available for tenants. We offer our congratulations to both projects and wish them every success in the future."

To find out more about North East Procurement or the Future Sparks fund please visit

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