Fight to restore rural services

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RURAL services could be restored across Northumberland in a new Village SOS Active campaign.

The Big Lottery Fund has launched the initiative to help local people revive their communities by coming together to provide amenities.

The challenge may be restoring and taking over a local pub, creating a food business or setting up arts and heritage facilities to attract visitors and create employment.

A range of support will be on offer, from online guidance and information to face-to-face advice sessions.

And a total of £5million of lottery funding has been set aside to award grants ranging from £10,000 to £30,000 for the best ideas in communities with a population of less than 3,000.

Big Lottery Fund Head of Region James Turner said: “Every year hundreds of local amenities, such as shops and pubs, close down in rural areas.

“The effects of this, along with limited transport options, rural isolation and lack of employment opportunities for young people, can all strike at the heart of village life.

“Through this campaign, the Big Lottery Fund will help rural villages in the north east region to tackle these issues by bringing together support, information and expert advice on how to develop community enterprises, as well as the chance to get some Lottery funding to aid them.”

The campaign runs alongside the Village SOS television series on BBC 1 that follows six villages which have secured a £400,000 grant to set up community-run businesses.

For more information visit www.villagesos.org.uk