TWO North Yorkshire charities have received a £1.4m funding boost to allow them to do more to improve the lives of people in rural areas.

North Yorkshire County Council and the county’s clinical commissioning groups have awarded the funding to North Yorkshire and York Forum and Rural Action Yorkshire after the charities made a successful joint application.

Both organisations are currently working closely on a proposed organisational merger to provide enhanced support to voluntary, community and rural organisations – allowing the development of new services in rural areas which desperately need them.

Leah Swain, chief executive of RAY, said: “We are excited about how we might be ambitious and create new ways of providing support for a wide range of different voluntary or community groups.

“We are looking forward to working with the sector to shape the new service to meet their needs. This is a significant financial investment by the county council and the CCGs who are investing in the health of a sector that they value as a critical partner in delivering their services.”

RAY campaigns for affordable housing, broadband, and transport, among many others; while the forum connects thousands of organisations with the people, partners and resources they need to make a difference to people in the county.

It enables communities to develop the confidence to help themselves and ensures their needs are heard by policy makers and service providers. Key work includes offering support, training, events and resources on everything affecting life in a rural areas, and help with funding and running community buildings.

The forum’s interim chief executive Simon Hills said: “We are aiming to enhance the quality of support we offer and plan to make accessing those services easier for organisations whatever their size and location.”

County councillor David Chance said: “From April 1 the forum and Rural Action Yorkshire will be providing practical and strategic support to enable a vibrant voluntary and community sector across the county.

“We carried out an in-depth review of the voluntary and community sector infrastructure and in 2016 a new competitive process for future funding of support was introduced. “