Community enterprises across County Durham are being encouraged to take advantage of a new initiative to help fine tune their journeys to provide more effective services within their communities.

Durham Sparks, a new regional development programme, has been launched by Durham charity Finchale in partnership with Bellrock Business Ltd, Riverside Consulting CIC, and Pinetree Trading Ltd.

The initiative comes as a result of almost £1m in funding from Durham County Council and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and will support entrepreneurs from across the region over a three year period.

The services delivered through Durham Sparks are structured to identify relevant support and interventions enabling both start-up and existing enterprise from across the region to achieve its goals and objectives.

Durham Sparks, managed by Finchale, is being rolled out across County Durham as part of an initiative involving partners working together to drive enterprise across the region.

As part of the initiative enterprise champions and coaches will work directly with both new and existing community enterprises to offer a range of services including marketing, business development, governance, people development, product and services development, brokerage to other added value support, access to workshops and network events as well as providing advice and guidance on funding and investment.

Mel Pears, MBE, CEO Finchale said:

Durham Sparks was developed by utilising the experience of the team at Finchale blending this with our extremely experienced partners from across the region. Finchale has served the Community of County Durham for over 70 years. This consortium has great ability, flexibility, resource and reputations in providing high-quality offers, enabling it to drive and support small and large enterprises across the county.

It is vital that this project creates a legacy of co-operation between existing and established organisations already operating in the sector to build a strong network of opportunity that enthuses enterprise within our community. It’s a great honour to have been awarded this funding to develop further our community support in County Durham.

Gordon Elliott, Durham County Council’s head of partnerships and community engagement, said:  “We fully support the work of community enterprises and look forward to this project helping local people and groups to become more entrepreneurial. We are committed to working with the consortium in its efforts to promote enterprise across the county.”

People interested in taking part in the project can either refer themselves or be signposted to Durham Sparks by other organisations. For more information on the project please contact Durham Sparks on 0191 386 2634