A PROJECT that helps people get into work, training and volunteering opportunities has landed thousands of pounds to expand.

Our Confident Community, based at Willington Open Door Methodist Church, received £11,680 from believe housing to support more families in and around the town.

The project pulls together a range of activities which aim to make the community a better place, support residents and create opportunities.

Volunteers and staff help people discover new skills or access online services. They work with Willington Foodbank and provide hot drinks and toasties to participants.

The project has become a focal point for a variety of agencies to deliver financial, health and careers and CV advice.

Ideas for future activities are taken from participants and in the last year have included leisure and learning activities such as exercise sessions, job search training and family fun. The group also works with other organisations in County Durham to provide signposting.

In the last eight months the project made a social impact valued at more than £300,000 by believe housing.

Debbie Howe, community investment officer at believe housing, said: “The warm and sensitive approach of everyone involved in this project has brought huge benefits to everyone they have worked with. The level and intensity of the support they can offer is way over and above what traditional support could offer. They are truly invaluable.

“The volunteers have genuinely transformed lives in Willington. They’ve helped homeless people access the support they’ve needed to find and run their own home. They’ve helped people back into work after years of searching. And they’ve helped people grow their confidence in ways they never thought possible.

“This new funding means that this great work won’t just continue but will also grow too, helping more people than ever.”

Willington Open Door Methodist Church has become a focal point for the community since its new building opened in 2016 to provide a welcoming disabled friendly venue for many community groups. Facilities include a well-equipped kitchen, conference facilities and high-speed internet access.

Sue Hine, from Our Confident Community, said: “We have met many special local people in the last year who have shared their ideas, hopes and dreams. We have been inspired and encouraged by the local residents who have a desire to improve themselves and improve the place where we live. Life can be really tough at times for many people and seeing people achieve something important to them is uplifting. So often the people who come encourage and support each other. Together we can be a confident community.”

Willington is one of a number of areas identified as a priority for community funding by believe housing. Each of the areas received extra support from the housing association alongside funding for grass roots projects that can make a difference to the lives of local people.