A CHARITABLE initiative which promotes community volunteering among a town’s leading employers has generated more than 850 volunteering hours this year.

Darlington Cares was set up in October 2012 to bring together the skills, expertise and volunteering manpower of Darlington businesses to make a difference in the town.

The partnership now consists of 21 members, including Cummins, EE, DeepOcean, Sherwoods, Modus Seabed Intervention, Newsquest North East, and is hosted by Teesside University at their Darlington campus.

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Programme manager Katie Blundell said: “We have delivered some really diverse projects ranging from building a plastic bottle greenhouse at Red Hall School with volunteers from EE, through to an employability mentoring programme at the Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College, expansion of our volunteer reading programme, Busy Readers and providing marketing expertise to Darlington Citizens Advice Bureau.

“We have also welcomed new members to the project including Latimer Hinks, Darlington College and Whessoe Engineering.”

Next year, the project aims to launch its new Ready to Work programme – a collaboration with the award-winning Darlington Foundation for Jobs initiative, focusing on employability skills for local schools.

It also plans to launch a new mental health programme with Darlington Partnership named Minded for Help, and plans to expand the employability mentoring programme at the town’s Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College.

Ms Blundell said she hoped to get more local employers to join next year, and added: “I wish to thank all of our members and partners for the dedication they have shown to Darlington Cares in 2014 and look forward to making 2015 bigger and better.”

For information call 01642-738970, email k.blundell@tees.ac.uk or visit darlingtoncares.co.uk