AN army of volunteers is being recruited to help people who have been adversely affected by the Government’s welfare reforms.

The Great Aycliffe and Middridge Partnership and social housing and community organisation livin have provided funding to develop East Durham Trust’s Welfare Champions project in the Newton Aycliffe area.

The project sees a team of volunteers advise and signpost people who experience difficulties due to changes to their benefits.

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Malcolm Fallow, chief executive of the East Durham Trust, a charity that promotes the regeneration of rural and urban areas, said many people preferred to turn to friends and acquaintances in the community rather than contact official support services.

He added: “We are looking for people who are already well placed in the local community who will provide these vital first pieces of information to get people on the right track.”

The project is not looking to replicate the Citizens Advice Bureau service, but instead will complement this by providing signposting information to the right agencies for assisting with specific issues and cases.

Recruitment of Welfare Champions is now taking place, with all volunteers receiving full training and being reimbursed for any out of pocket expenses.

To get involved, contact 0191 5693511 or