ISOLATED communities in an area deemed 'England's last wilderness' are finding ways of keeping in touch.

When there is not a pandemic on, the villages of the sparsely populated Upper Weardale would hold community events to keep in touch.

Unfortunately due to the pandemic all the events have been cancelled.

Diana Sutcliff has run a luncheon club for the elderly in St Johns's Chapel for over 20 years.

The group usually meet once a week and this is the first times it has been cancelled.

The club has become a social hub for many of the elderly in Upper Weardale, some of whom are in their 90s.

Mrs Sutcliff has dedicated her time during lockdown to call the club members, she said: “I make sure I phone the members of the group as much as I can, around 75 per cent of them don’t have the internet or modern phones.

"I make sure they are alright, as our luncheon club was their only social contact and it's been cancelled since March. They all tell me how much they miss it.”

Durham County Councillor for Weardale, John Shuttleworth, said: “Given the unprecedented times we are living in, it is the duty of all of us to try and give assistance, comfort, and help to both the elderly and those who live on their own, even if it is just a quick five minute phone call.”