COMMUNITY organisations in the Allen Valleys have begun work on a project designed to bring new opportunities for the future.

The Resilient Allen Valleys project has brought together more than ten social enterprises, charities and non-constituted groups that make up the community heritage sector in the Allen Valleys.

The National Lottery's Heritage Fund is supporting project, which is being led by the North Pennines AONB Partnership.

Resilient Allen Valleys will see organisations such as the Allenheads Trust and Fawside work to strengthen their business plans, invest in skills to aid growth and carry out effective marketing and promotion.

David Coverdale, Community Development Officer from the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: "We know that there is a thriving community heritage sector in the Allen Valleys. What the new project will allow us to do is to develop a robust plan for these organisations, and develop the skills and knowledge they need to secure their sustainable future.

"There is a real community feel to this, and working together to build on the success of the Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership, the local organisations involved will be able to make the most of the fantastic heritage assets in the area."

One of the groups to be supported by the AONB over the course of the 18-month project is the Allen Valleys Enterprise Ltd, which will be developing a viable business at the recently restored Barney Craig mineshop.

Steve Agar, chair of the AVEL board, said: "We’re delighted that the National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting community groups and organisations like ours to help build a secure and sustainable future.”

"As well as strengthening our own skills and helping us to work much more closely with other local organisations, Resilient Allen Valleys will help us to access the appropriate external support and professional advice.”