FOR people wanting to make a difference in their local community and shape the lives of those living in County Durham – here is your chance.

Residents can play a part in helping to alter council services in County Durham for the better after the county council announced that it would be looking for volunteers to serve on its overview and scrutiny committees as non-statutory, non-voting co-optees.

Two volunteers are needed by the county council for each of its five overview and scrutiny committees: adults, wellbeing and health; safer and stronger communities; economy and enterprise; children and young people's; and environment and sustainable communities.

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As part of the role, co-optees serve for two years and have the opportunity to help develop new ways of working, review existing policies and challenge the performance of the council and its key partners.

Volunteers will also participate in focused reviews, with previous review topics including cybercrime, suicide rates, mental health and wellbeing in County Durham, the support provided to the retail sector, GP service provision, free school meals and holiday hunger, as well as proposed allotment policy and road safety.

There are six scheduled meetings each year, starting at 9.30am and finishing around 11.30am.

The Northern Echo: Volunteers would need to be available for online meetings six times a year. Volunteers would need to be available for online meetings six times a year.

Successful applicants would need to have access to IT and the internet to be able to participate in any meetings that may be held virtually.

Tom Bolton, who currently serves as a non-voting co-optee on the environment and sustainable communities overview and scrutiny committee, said: "I've always had an interest in environmental issues, so being able to attend meetings and take part in projects has allowed me to contribute to the process of improving the services of the council and its partners.

"For me, being involved in overview and scrutiny is about making a positive difference. I have also gained a lot of knowledge during my time as a co-opted member because of my involvement in several in-depth projects.

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"The last project involved a review of allotment provision and was fascinating, with site visits and presentations from a wide range of providers and users.

"I was able to ask questions and, I hope, contribute positively to the recommendations of the working group to the council. I have always found that being involved in this work and helping to improve council services has been rewarding."

Application forms should be submitted by March 11, with successful applicants invited for an interview in May.

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