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Project to help vulnerable people gets welcome boost in Bishop Auckland

Community Peer Mentors group photo 27.02.2017

Image: Cllr Allen, staff, volunteer Mentors and

Click to read the article in the Northern Echo

VULNERABLE and isolated residents in need of support will now have access to central meeting rooms in Bishop Auckland town centre, after a generous councillor made a donation to the project.

The expanding Community Peer Mentor Project, which supports residents who feel vulnerable or isolated, has been awarded £1,440 by Durham County Councillor for Bishop Auckland Town, Joy Allen.

Cllr Allen donated the money from her Members Initiative Fund, which will secure private meeting rooms at the Four Clocks Centre, in Bishop Auckland, over the next few months.

Project coordinator, Jim Cunningham, said the scheme, which has been running for about a year, has about 50 active volunteers who are specially trained to help people in Bishop Auckland and Shildon who “have been reliant on the emergency services or the council”.

They also help clients who have mental health issues or are dependent on drugs or alcohol.

“Even working with clients for a short period saw an increase in social contact which is why this is so brilliant,” Mr Cunningham said. “One gentleman had not had any social contact for six years and had lots of social issues but we took him out to a community centre for lunch and a quiz and he was there four-and-a-half-hours.”

Ron Hogg, Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner for County Durham and Darlington, said: “Vulnerable or isolated residents, including those who have been a victim of crime in the area, will now have access to a central venue in the town to discuss their issues and seek appropriate support. This is a fantastic opportunity for residents in the local community.”

Mr Cunningham said the help from Cllr Allen and Mr Hogg had been “fantastic” for the project, which has also been supported by the Bishop Auckland and Shildon Area Action Partnership.

Cllr Allen praised the project the way it “gets to the root cause” of people’s problems to help them and the meeting rooms would be a local hub where clients could meet with volunteers.

“It’s important to have a facility here in the high street,” she said. “I think we are really fortunate in Bishop Auckland because people are into volunteering and passionate about their local areas.”

New volunteers are always being sought. For more information call Mr Cunningham on 01325-405565, 03000-031818 or email jim.cunningham@restorativehub.org.uk.

Posted on Monday 27th February 2017
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