A CHARITABLE scheme to help people in poverty has received over £250,000 in lottery funding.

The project, known as SPIED (Stop Poverty in East Durham) was launched in Peterlee by the East Durham Trust this week.

As part of the Poverty Intervention Strategy, it will involve a range of activities, some aimed at improving the prospects of people, such as community job clubs, and others that support people who are experiencing hardship, such as welfare and debt advice.

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The trust’s chief executive, Malcolm Fallow, said: “This is a response to the growing issues around poverty in East Durham and beyond and is pretty much a result of the way things are going with Government policy and welfare reforms.

“Before, at least there was a degree of support, with an understanding there would always be vulnerable people, but that charitable approach seems to have disappeared now and the safety net has been removed.

“We are getting daily issues that are very reminiscent of the I, Daniel Blake film.

“The thing that resonated with us is that we are getting people who claim food parcels from us and open them in the car park outside, so it came as no surprise that there were scenes like that in the film.”

The involvement of local volunteers and public venues, such as community centres and village halls, will be central to the project.

Mr Fallow said: “We will be using out networks of community buildings throughout East Durham to hold surgeries and have individual sessions with people who have got problems.”

A key component will be the support for people in their first month of employment in relation to travel with subsidised transport before the first pay cheque.

A volunteer driver scheme will also be established as part of the programme.

Mr Fallow said: “This project is going to allow us to take much a longer term approach and maintain the capacity to do the things we do to deal with people’s daily issues, but also getting them back to work and planning their way out of poverty and debt.

“We want people who recognise this to get in touch with the East Durham Trust and without doubt this project will be able to help them.

“We have got an army of volunteers and staff who are here to help people who find themselves in that position.”

To find out more visit East Durham Trust at Community House, Yoden Road, Peterlee, or call 0191-569-3511.