Building a resilient community network in the former Durham coalfield

March 2024

By Angela Abbott and Cameron Ian Forbes
Foreword by John Tomaney

This report addresses the challenges facing community organisations based in former mining villages and towns in the Durham Coalfield. This former coalfield contains communities with high levels of multiple deprivation. There are a number of organisations at the frontline meeting pressing needs, filling in the gaps left by the withdrawal of central and local government services.

The report is based on interviews with representatives from a number of these organisations to better understand their challenges and to assess the potential role of Redhills: the Durham Miners’ Hall in assisting them. It identifies the nature of the funding crisis facing community organisations as grants and other sources of income have declined. It shows how this recurring short-term funding crisis is preventing long-term planning and hindering their ability to meet needs in their communities. It also identifies the lack of measures to support the work of staff and volunteers to prevent their burnout. A key finding is the need to improve the evidence base so that these organisations can better communicate what they do and the difference they make.

The report includes a number of actionable insights, suggesting practical measures that can help to address the problems identified, and the potential role of Redhills in supporting and providing resilience in the former coalfield communities. Redhills can provide a space which allows organisations to come together, learn and share good practice; a space for influencing policymakers; a space for building trust between funders and communities. The report finishes with a detailed checklist and timeline for developing a proposal on these lines.