A FOODBANK set up to help cash strapped residents has been praised for its efforts on the day that it opened.

Chilton Foodbank opened for trade under the Durham Christian Partnership banner today. (Monday, July 28)

Manned by volunteers it is open between 10am and noon each Monday in St Aidan’s Church, in the town.

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The project is the result of talks between the partnership and Chilton Town Council to help address a need in the former mining town.

Councillor Elizabeth Bruce, mayor of Chilton, said: “If it helps people in Chilton then it has to be a good thing.

“I’ve no idea how many people in Chilton will use it but there are a lot of people who do need to use foodbanks. It’s a sad state of affairs.

“The town council has been involved from the start on this and there are volunteers who are willing to make it work.

“We were aware that people were going from Chilton to Ferryhill to access a foodbank so it must be a good thing to have somewhere in Chilton where they can go for help.”

More and more people across the North-East have turned to foodbanks in recent years as they have struggled to buy food.

Figures released by the Trussell Trust, which runs nine foodbanks in the region, show a 463 per cent rise in demand in its facilities in the last 12 months.

The Christian partnership has 24 foodbank distribution points scattered across the North-East including in Consett and Shildon.

The next nearest foodbank to Chilton is located in St Luke’s Church hall, in Ferryhill, and this is open between 10.30am and noon on Thursdays.

It is hoped that the Chilton facility will ease the travelling pressure on those people who are already struggling to cope.

Bev Anderson, foodbank project manager for the Christian partnership, said: “We’re committed to helping anyone who needs it in County Durham.

“The Ferryhill foodbank is very busy and it was suggested that we should run an extra facility.

“We noted that some of the people heading to Ferryhill were from the Chilton area so we decided that we should hold one there.

“The town council contacted us as it felt that there was a need for a foodbank and it has all come together.

“We can supply three days worth of food supplies and we can help point people towards other areas where they can get help.

“We’re always grateful for donations of food to help to run the foodbanks that we operate in the region.”

Anyone wishing to use the Chilton foodbank must obtain a referral voucher which can be issued by the police, doctors, social workers and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Food bins are located in both St Aidan’s Church and the town council’s offices, on Durham Road, and donations can be left there.