A NEW project aimed at bringing people together and helping community groups to thrive is launching in Darlington.

Organisers behind The Neighbourhood scheme plan to open a large community building in the town centre to help voluntary service groups save money through economies of scale and bring them together to share resources, expertise and ideas.

The Neighbourhood aims to rent out long-term and short-term affordable space for non-profit social enterprises, clubs and societies.

Its focal point will be a café where visitors and volunteers can mix but there will also be spaces where organisations which depend on confidentiality can operate securely and halls for larger events.

Ivana Cigna, chief executive of The Neighbourhood, said: “These days, opinions about issues like politics, faith, race, gender or disability turn too often into vicious personal attacks, both verbal and physical.

“If political or social adversaries got together for a chat over tea and chocolate cake, they would be less likely to end up snarling and swearing at each other on social media.

“The Neighbourhood project will be committed to bringing townspeople together so that they can mingle and, perhaps, understand each other more.”

The co-director of the project is Peter Greenwood, chair of More In Common Darlington (MICD), the anti-bigotry group that organises the community Great Get Together in South Park every summer.

He said: “MICD will do all it can to assist Ivana in a project which has huge promise.”

To launch the project, the organisers have joined with Darlington Markets to host The Great Neighbourhood Bake-Off in the covered market on Saturday, November 23, from 10am until 2pm. Entry forms can be found on The Neighbourhood’s Facebook page.