New College Durham has joined forces with the Bishop Auckland and Stockton and Darlington Railway Heritage Action Zones and Discover Brightwater Landscape Partnership to offer a series of free heritage skills courses for local people.
The programme, funded by Historic England and National Lottery Heritage Fund, is aimed at people living or working in Bishop Auckland, Darlington and Stockton local authority areas and hopes to give around 60 people the opportunity to learn new skills.
The courses are suitable for everyone. They can provide a first step for young people, students and apprentices looking to start a career in the trades whilst those with previous experience such as tradespeople, property developers and volunteer workers can take the opportunity to upskill.
Prospective learners can choose from a wide range of subjects including hedge laying, managing bats in historic buildings, dry stone walling and masonry. The lessons mix theory-based classroom learning with practical sessions onsite at historic buildings.
Ashley Deane, Head of School at New College Durham, commented: “We are thrilled to be working with Bishop Auckland and Stockton and Darlington Railway Heritage Action Zones and Discover Brightwater. The Heritage Action Zones aim to create economic growth and improve quality of life in villages, towns and cities. We are proud to play a part in this by passing on vital heritage skills to a new generation of learners. We are looking forward to helping local people upskill or learn new skills which could help them progress into further study, employment or volunteer opportunities in the heritage sector.”
Durham County Council has helped make the courses possible as a partner in both Heritage Action Zones as well as the Discover Brightwater Landscape Partnership.
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, the council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “We are really pleased to be able to support the provision of courses such as this through both the Heritage Action Zones and the Discover Brightwater Landscape Partnership.
“Giving people the chance to learn new skills will help them with either progressing in their existing jobs or gaining employment, as well as increasing their confidence.
“It is also to the benefit of our county as it strengthens our skilled workforce which in turn helps attract investment and boosts our economy in this period of recovery from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Cameron Southworth works at Trades4care, a project dedicated to bridging the trade and maintenance gaps for health care, social care, the education sector, local community projects, charities and trusts. She has signed up for all the available courses as she believes they will be a great help to the project.
She said: “We carry out a lot of work on historic buildings, so it is good to know how they were built and the materials that were used. This will allow me to carry out small repairs using the correct techniques and give me the knowledge to match materials to those originally used. Also, these courses will allow me to spot hazards that others may not, helping to keep our team safe at all times.”
Visit www.newcollegedurham.ac.uk to find out more about the heritage skills courses on offer at New College Durham.