CAMPAIGNERS have marched through their community in a bid to raise awareness of poverty in the North-East.

Fifteen volunteers walked the seven miles between Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Billingham and Thornaby Methodist Church in an event organised by the group Thrive Teesside.

It works with disadvantaged residents to bring about change and give a voice to people with first-hand experience of poverty.

When they reached their destination they were met by Stockton South MP Paul Williams, a supporter of the event.

The marchers spoke to passers-by, carried placards and visited anti-poverty projects.

They stopped at a food bank in Billingham on the way. Manager Jill Coyle said demand has increased for their services in recent years.

She said: “The Government needs to look at the benefits system, that’s where people are most affected. People are on low incomes and rents are going up while wages are not.”

Tanya Lawson, one of those taking part, said: “It’s important to stand up for everybody’s rights.

“Everybody deserves a decent standard of living but under all these austerity cuts people are really struggling.

“In the summer holidays people cannot afford to feed children. It should not be like that.”

Katy Carter said: “People do not realise there is real poverty here. Also, there are people who are stigmatised for being in poverty.

“It’s discrimination. Who of us would choose to be poor? Nobody.”

Tracey Herrington, project manager at Thrive, said: “We want to raise awareness that there is an issue with poverty in the community.

“The voluntary sector is having to meet the needs of people who are struggling to get by through government cuts.

“We also want to raise awareness of all the injustice of sanctions and unfair disability assessments.”

Mr Williams said: “I want to be a strong anti-poverty MP.

“In my previous job as a GP, I saw people who had been unfairly sanctioned and the current Government does not seem really to understand anything about poverty and what it’s like to live in poverty.”