Residents of the historic island of Lindisfarne are to benefit from the building of a new village hall thanks to a £500,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund.
The project is one of 20 across England to share £5,999,028 from the fund’s Reaching Communities programme this month, and one of four schemes in the North East.
The island’s original village hall was closed for safety reasons in 2005 and demolished in 2007.
David O’Connor, trustee of the Holy Island Village Hall, said: “We are understandably delighted and the funding will enable us to move forward with the rebuild, reinstate the village hall as the focal point of island community life and a place where all can gather under one roof - an integral part of our island community life. The opportunity to create a new village hall at the heart of island life is, quite literally, life-changing for Holy Island residents. Because the island is tidal, all off-island journeys require detailed planning. We cannot jump on a bus and go off to the cinema, the health centre, or go shopping or to socialise on the mainland.”
Holy Island, off the coast of Northumberland, is only accessible via a tidal causeway for two six-hour periods in every 24 hours.
Before its closure, the old hall was used by the Mothers Union, knitting circle, keep fit clubs, as well as for billiards, bowls, boxing, and dances. Most of these are expected to re-start when the new centre is built, along with a book exchange, health clinics, youth club, and a choral society.
The new hall will also be used by the parish council, Fishermen’s Society, Holy Island Development Forum and Development Trust plus tourists and pilgrims. Nat Sloane, England chairman of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “A small community on Holy Island, which is cut-off from the mainland for most of the time, will have a place of their own where they can access necessary services and social activities as a result of this grant.
“A community hall is often an essential ingredient to community life. It can help reduce isolation by providing opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to interact and learn from new and positive experiences. At the Big Lottery Fund we want people to lead fulfilling lives and that’s why in the £6 million we are announcing, many communities across England will benefit from having a central hub.”
Elsewhere in the North East, Newcastle United Foundation has secured £114,419 to deliver football programmes to more than 1,000 people in deprived areas of Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside and Northumberland.
Stepney Bank Stables, also in Newcastle, will use its grant of £84,879 to help more than 400 children and young people from deprived backgrounds towards a horse care certificate.
In Redcar & Cleveland, The Link Community Interest Company (CIC) has received £398,218 to provide early intervention support to just under 500 young people.
The Link will work with the local NHS child and adolescent mental health services as well as volunteer support organisation The Junction. Group work will use music, arts and crafts to improve the skills and confidence of young people.
Big Lottery Fund spokesperson Louise Snelders said: “It is great to be able to fund projects in Tyneside and Teesside that will give young people the confidence and new skills to help them make their way in the world.”