A TRANSFORMATION of how residents tackling debt, housing, welfare and health issues in County Durham can get advice was unveiled today (Tuesday, June 17).

Advice in County Durham, a partnership of six advice organisations across the county working to make it easier for residents to get the help and support they need, was launched at the Glebe Centre in Murton, near Peterlee.

The new partnership is a first for County Durham, bringing with it an accredited ‘tick’ system telling people which centres can best help them and to what level.

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Peter MacLellan, chairman of the Durham Christian Partnership which runs Durham Money Advice Centre and the County Durham Foodbank, said: “Last year we saw an increase from 6,000 to more than 14,000 people needing our foodbank service.

“Crucially this new initiative will make it easier for those needing help to get the right level of advice and support.

Lorraine O’Donnell, Durham County Council’s assistant chief executive, said: “The launch of Advice in County Durham is an extremely positive move that will improve access to a wide range of advice services at a time when there are a significant changes in areas where people traditionally need help and support.

"We are looking forward to working closely with the partnership and seeing how this new approach to signposting people to advice services helps tackle problems related to housing, debt, employment and other issues.”

Funding of £336,000 was awarded to the new initiative, led by Citizens Advice County Durham (CACD), from the Big Lottery Advice Services Transition Fund last year.

In 2013 CACD alone helped more than 20,000 residents with the largest concerns for County Durham families being welfare, housing, employment and debt.

50 organisations coming together to find out how they can register to be a part of Advice in County Durham.

It’s anticipated the network’s new website www.adviceindurham.org.uk will launch to the public at the end of July.