SMALL charities in County Durham could win £6,500 and a year’s free leadership coaching if they apply for a funding award.

The Weston Charity Award will be handed to 20 winners this year.

Launched on Friday, the awards open to any charity with an annual income of less than £5million that provides frontline services in the fields of community, welfare and youth.

According to online directory, there are 5,242 charities operating across the North-East and organisers are keen to hear from ambitious charities in the Durham area.

Philippa Charles, director of the Garfield Weston Foundation, which established the Weston Charity Awards, said: “Small charities are the lifeblood of County Durham, helping people of all ages overcome a range of issues.

“Charities tell us they urgently require leadership and strategy support to ensure they are able to keep doing what they do well.

“We’re offering charities a helping hand so they can continue to help your community in the years to come.”

New research by the Weston Charity Awards among leaders of small and medium sized charities shows charities in Durham are among the least confident in the country about their prospects for next year.