A DARLINGTON support group is expanding its services as lockdown eases.

Darlington Support, a group set up to help residents during the coronavirus pandemic, is expanding its services in line with the town's changing demands as lockdown eases.

Companion garden visits, walk and talk sessions, deliveries and collections from the library and a foodbank are all among services now on offer as the new charity establishes itself long-term.

Volunteers have also benfitted from training courses on topics such as safeguarding, dementia, communication skills and building strong working relationships.

Previously calling those who are shielding, the group is now offering garden visits to residents who would rather speak face-to-face in a socially-distanced manner.

In the Walk and Talk sessions, volunteers meet a residents to chat while walking in their local park or neighbourhood.

Darlington councillor Steve Harker, who is on the charity's board of trustees, said: “Darlington is no different to anywhere else in that we are living in extraordinary times.

"I’ve been humbled at the extent to which families and neighbours alike have helped people in need of support.

"It’s remarkable how many people volunteered with Darlington Support, giving time willingly and freely, and in doing so helping so many people through such difficult circumstances."

The group has been collaborating with Darlington Libraries to deliver books to hundreds of people who are shielding at home, while it has also delivered food parcels for King’s Church Foodbank.

Library Manager, Suzy Hill, said “Our home delivery service has been very popular and many residents have joined the scheme. The service is available to Darlington residents of all ages, who are unable to access their library because of ill-health, disability or frailty, or if they find it difficult to visit the library or carry books.

"Big thanks to all the volunteers from Darlington Support for their help delivering books to our customers.”

Working together with other local charities, Darlington Support delivered food parcels to local residents on behalf of The Bread and Butter Thing and as helped pick up supermarket donations for King’s Church Foodbank.

King’s Church Foodbank manager, Caroline Todd, commented: “King’s Foodbank have been overwhelmed by the wonderful support from Darlington Support volunteers during the current pandemic.

"Their army of volunteers have been assisting the Foodbank, making emergency food deliveries at short notice to the vulnerable and picking up bags of donations from the supermarkets for us, especially when we have been unable to meet this need due to current demands upon our services.”