A PROJECT to create two gardens to grow items for a soon-to-be-launched food bank in Shildon has received a £196,189 boost.

The Shildon Alive project based at St John’s Church has been awarded the cash from the Big Lottery Fund to pay for a community worker to take the scheme forward.

The church will provide two pieces of land, one an existing garden and the other an unused and neglected community garden.

Loading article content

Members of the project will use one of the areas to grow their own food.

The Shildon Alive team also plans to take over an unused town centre shop to act as a community hub and food bank.

To help stock the food bank the green fingered team will create an allotment on the second plot.

It is hoped those with physical or metal health issues or those affected by long term unemployment or food poverty will join the project.

Reverend David Tomlinson, vicar at St John’s, said: “Shildon Alive is about breathing life into a struggling community in a number of related ways.

“These gardens will offer a lively community experience and they will be a vehicle for positive community development and enrichment through the events and activities.

“The gardens will be linked to a food aid project.

“Surplus food will go through the aid project and those coming for aid will have the opportunity to get involved in the project.

“The bulk of the grant will pay for a full-time community development worker and the costs of the town centre contact point, a redundant shop unit in prime position.”

There are also plans to hold community barbecues and coffee mornings. The Shildon Alive team are also discussing other ideas such as a community bank and furniture aid.

Alison Rowe, of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “We are pleased to make a grant to St John’s Church to help local residents grow their own food and support a food bank to help struggling families who have hit hard times.”