A SERVICE for people affected by adoption is starting on Teesside following the success of a scheme launched in Darlington.

The service in Hartlepool, run by Durham Family Welfare, offers help and support to those trying to trace their birth parents or babies given away for adoption.

"It requires great courage in many instances just to make an initial phone call asking for help in locating old adoption records," said Catriona Morris, from Durham Family Welfare.

"The drop-in centre will eliminate some of the stress. We hope to provide a friendly, welcoming environment where people can come to talk confidentially, seek advice about the various stages of a search and meet others going through a similar experience."

She said the drop-in centre that opened in Darlington 18 months ago had led to two family reunions.

"We haven't had huge numbers through the door but it's been successful and we hope to repeat that in Hartlepool."

In Darlington, the service is provided at the Dolphin Centre on the last Wednesday of the month.

The session will be from 1pm to 4pm in May and from 4pm to 7pm in June.

The service is available at Grange Road Methodist Church Resource Centre, Hartlepool, on the second Thursday of every month.