SOCIAL services bosses hope to raise the department's profile and back up its work by seeking sponsorship.

Durham County Council's social services section has appointed a development officer to look for sponsors and heighten awareness of the department's role.

Anna Knighton will seek to establish partnerships with the private and voluntary sectors.

She said: "This is an exciting time to be involved in sponsorship, as more and more firms are becoming aware of the opportunities that community investment brings.

"Durham social services offers partnership with a high-profile, award-winning organisation, which allows companies minimal risk in any sponsorship venture."

Ms Knighton has worked for both the voluntary and private sector, including the London Lighthouse, a centre for people with HIV and Aids.

But, for the past six years, she has managed a private hospital, in Cyprus.

Social services director Peter Kemp believes the new sponsorship development post is the way forward.

"Local government has seen huge changes in recent years, and social services departments up and down the country are having to adapt and compete in an ever-changing world," he said.

Organisations wanting more information can contact Ms Knighton on 0191-383 3326.