GDF Community Partnership Mid Copeland

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Over £650,000 awarded to Mid Copeland projects from GDF programme

July 31, 2023

Shackles Off youth and community group celebrate after being awarded funding from the GDF programme for a new youth centre

Shackles Off youth and community group celebrate after being awarded funding from the GDF programme for a new youth centre  Pictures: Tom Kay


A new youth centre, lifesaving workshops, two play parks and a transformed community hall are just some of the projects awarded funding from the GDF programme.

Mid Copeland GDF Community Partnership has so far awarded over £650,000 in Community Investment Funding to local projects during its second year, as the area takes part in the search for a suitable site for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).

A GDF is an underground facility designed to safely and securely dispose of higher activity radioactive waste.

Villagers at Calderbridge celebrate their new play park

Villagers at Calderbridge celebrate their new play park

£1million was awarded in the first year, most of which has now been spent and new facilities and services provided across Mid Copeland.

Community Partnership Chair Andy Pratt said: “It’s brilliant to see all of these local projects receiving funding, coming to fruition and making a huge difference to so many people across our communities. There’s such a wide range of projects which shows the versatility of the funding and all of the different ways it can be used to provide new and enhanced facilities.

“Last year we made a total of 28 awards totalling £1million and so far this year we have made 12 awards. If you have an idea for a project, it’s always best to get in touch with the Community Investment Team before you start your application to ensure the best chance of a successful outcome.”

Projects to benefit from funding so far in year two are:

  • £302,500 for Shackles Off for construction of a new youth and community centre, and a further £110,379 agreed from next year’s funding
  • £47,918 to Calderbridge and Ponsonby Parish Council for Calderbridge Village Playground to update the village play area
  • £130,871 to Beckermet with Thornhill Parish Council for Thornhill play park
  • £64,200 towards Beckermet Reading Rooms refurbishment project
  • £9,990 Gosforth Juniors AFC development – including new goals, training equipment and strip
  • £29,086 for Copeland Age and Advice Service to support Mid Copeland people aged over 55
  • £37,731 to Seascale Parish Council, for Seascale Bowling Club to fund fencing and a mower
  • £3,960 to Age UK West Cumbria, to provide a veterans’ session at the Muncaster Men in Sheds project
  • £2,640 for Little Lifers First Aid Ltd, delivering Flat Stan First Aid Workshop to Year 3 Primary Schools in Mid Copeland
  • £3,126 towards Gosforth Agricultural Show, for marquee hire and 10 tables
  • £14,865 for Gosforth Parish Council, for Gosforth Public Hall refurbishment feasibility study
  • £9,670 to Beckermet Nursery for refurbishment and repairs

The Shackles Off youth and community project is delighted to have been awarded a total of £412,879 from this year’s and next year’s Community Investment Funding for a purpose-built youth and community centre near the Windscale Club, in Seascale.

“We’re absolutely over the moon that we have received this funding to make our dream a reality – this has been four years in the making and I don’t think we could have done it without GDF,” said Mandy Taylor, executive officer of Shackles Off.

Phase one includes demolition of a pre-fabricated building and putting in foundations for the eco-friendly project and phase 2 will be the new-build and fitting out which will include community room, youth space, kitchen and storage.

“We have tried to make it as eco-friendly as possible with air-sourced heat pump, solar panels and a water collection system,” added Mandy. The project also received £150,000 funding from Copeland Community Fund.

Shackles Off started in 2008 by a group of volunteers and has grown to work with a total of 550 young people across Seascale and Millom areas – almost 300 of those in Mid Copeland. Joanne Pears is manager and there are seven other staff offering informal education, fun activities and one to one work.

Youngsters are enjoying Calderbridge play area thanks to a revamp which includes four new pieces of equipment. The project was awarded £47,918 through Calderbridge and Ponsonby Parish Council. Hannah Webb, Parish clerk, said: “We’re a small parish and we didn’t have the funds so without this GDF funding it wouldn’t have been possible to do this.”

Villager Sam Arden filled out the funding application which she said was simple to do. “It’s good we’ve been able to provide something for both younger and older children, every day there’s families down here now.”

Parish Council Chair Bob Jones added: “This improves the assets for the village and helps to encourage more people to become involved in the community. It’s also a facility which will be used by the wider Mid Copeland area.”

Beckermet Reading Rooms opening

Beckermet Reading Rooms opening

Beckermet Reading Rooms was awarded a total of £267,930 from the GDF programme in years 1 and 2, for a feasibility study and refurbishment. From initial planning in February last year until now, it’s had a major transformation and redesign into a community centre including new roof, heating and air conditioning system, floor, storage, décor and furnishing.

Geoff Nugent, a director of Beckermet Reading Rooms Community Interest Company, has project managed the renovations. He said: “Without GDF funding we couldn’t have delivered this project for the community. We needed a proper community centre for the village to appeal to all age groups and I’m very proud in what we have created.”

A successful village show was held at the recent re-opening, attracting around 100 people, which will be followed by a larger celebration event in September to mark the building’s centenary. Geoff added: “Everyone is amazed at the total transformation of the centre, it’s a really big achievement.”

Year 3 pupils in Mid Copeland have been learning lifesaving skills – such as CPR, dealing with choking and the recovery position – thanks to Flat Stan First Aid workshops. They are run by Little Lifers First Aid Ltd where local businesses sponsor schools so they can have access to the free workshops. Mid Copeland GDF Community Partnership awarded £2,640.

The funding will be used over the next three years in Mid Copeland. This year 75 local primary children have taken part from Beckermet, Gosforth, Seascale and Thornhill schools. Natalie Groggins, Adult and Paediatric First Aid Instructor, said: “The workshops have been a fantastic success, all the children have lots of fun whilst learning vital lifesaving skills. Thank you to the Mid Copeland GDF Community Partnership for funding.”

Thornhill School take part in lifesaving Flat Stan workshop

Thornhill School take part in lifesaving Flat Stan workshop

Mid Copeland GDF Community Partnership provides access to £1million Community Investment Funding (CIF) per year from the GDF programme as discussions progress around what a facility could mean locally.

The Mid Copeland GDF Search Area covers the electoral ward of Gosforth which includes Seascale, Gosforth, Beckermet, Calderbridge, Haile, Thornhill, Nethertown and Braystones. The Lake District National Park is excluded from consideration – however CIF can be used for eligible community projects in this area.

Deep geology beyond the coast is being considered for siting the underground elements of a GDF in Mid Copeland. This means a surface facility on, or near, the coast would provide access to a disposal area deep in rock beyond the coast.

The GDF programme requires both a suitable site and a willing community and is still in the early stages. Construction will only start on a GDF when a suitable site is identified, a Potential Host Community has confirmed its willingness to host the facility through a Test of Public Support, and all the necessary consents and permits have been obtained. These steps could take around 15 years.