CELL flying high as Northumberland group is first Big Local area to spend all of its funds

Four villages in Northumberland have celebrated the culmination of a major project to improve their communities.

By Andrew Coulson
Tuesday, 28th June 2022, 6:06 pm

Kites were flown by local volunteers outside the restored 14th Century Pele Tower in Cresswell to mark this village – and Ellington, Linton, Lynemouth – being the first in the country to spend its allocation.

Launched in 2012, Big Local is a resident-led funding programme providing 150 areas in England with £1.15million each to spend across a 10 to 15-year period to create lasting change in their neighbourhoods.

CELL Big Local was formed in 2013 and it has used its National Lottery Community Fund money to kick-start a wide range of projects which have, in turn, attracted investment from other funding bodies that have nearly tripled the value of the original grant (a total of £3.2million for the schemes).

Residents involved in CELL Big Local and national Big Local representatives at the kite-flying celebration event. Picture by Mark Savage/Local Trust.

For example, a £25,000 grant from CELL Big Local levered in an additional £750,000 of Heritage Lottery Fund investment for the successful project to restore the Pele Tower.

A modest £500 given to Northumberland Rivers Trust for a beach clean-up event inspired a campaign that led to a £7.5million cliff restoration project in Lynemouth Bay, located within a Marine Conservation Zone.

For children and young people, CELL Big Local provided funding to enable Ellington Juniors Football Club to successfully fundraise for new home ground pitches and a new clubhouse, funded the creation of a new Scouts group which now has 80-plus members and provided support for play and fitness equipment in parks in Linton and Ellington.

Other supported projects include a refurbished kitchen in a Lynemouth community building, holiday clubs, drop-in sessions for young people, large events and backing for local activities, improved places to meet and fostered community action and togetherness.

Heather Wallace, vice chair of CELL Big Local, said: “Residents used to feel this was a ‘forgotten area’ that lacked investment. Now there’s a real sense of collaboration and community spirit.

“It made a huge difference that we, as residents, decided where the money was needed and what mattered to the people who live here. Our confidence has grown so much and there are some real improvements in the area.

“We’re much stronger now and we’re determined to carry on.”