VOLUNTEERS involved with a coronavirus community support group have launched a new project to help families and promote wellbeing.

The Gilesgate Covid-19 Support Group in Durham has received donations of books, jigsaws, board games, DVDs, CDs and crafts materials and also has bought new colouring books and felt tip pens.

They are now being made freely available every Saturday in the foyer of the Durham City Baptist Church on Edge Court in Gilesgate from 9.45am to 11.30am.

The session aims to complement the Food Bank provision which takes place in an adjoining room.

Belmont Parish Councillor Christine Fletcher said: “Local volunteers are already delivering food parcels to those in need in the area, but we wanted to provide more than food.

“We have been overwhelmed by the excellent quality of the donations and generosity of local people.

“We have a team of 12 volunteers trained in health and safety and Covid-19 procedures and in just two sessions we have already supported 38 households.

“People can enjoy a book, jigsaw, board game or DVD then exchange them. We can also deliver items to local people who are shielding.”

Donated items are quarantined for one week before being inspected, cleaned and made available.

Customers are asked to wash their hands on arrival and are provided with gloves before they handle the items.

A spokesperson for Laurel Avenue Community Centre who are supporting the activity said: “During this coronavirus pandemic all the organisations supporting this project have regularly met to discuss how we can best support our local community.

“We acknowledge the increasing need amongst the community during this uncertain time. We believe that it is possible to work together to sustain a service that will fulfil the aims of this project, most importantly, tackling poverty, reducing social isolation, and building community capacity.”

Durham County Councillor Katie Corrigan is enthusiastic about the project and has been a volunteer since the start of the pandemic.

She said: “This is a great example of local partnership in action.

“The provision of a weekly free service that the whole community can access is excellent. The idea of an exchange or take and keep table is perfect.

“People are thrilled they can try different jigsaws. As a complement to the Food Bank we will also be promoting other support and helping people get help from other organisations.”

For more information please contact Belmont Parish Councillor Christine Fletcher on 0781-201-9189 or labourbelmont@gmail.com.