STAFF at a centre designed to help people into work organised a much needed community event after realising that many of its clients were really struggling to make ends meet.

Pertemps People Development Group (PPDG) in Redcar decided to run a free jumble sale and teamed up with a local food bank to help people who were facing the tough choice between food and heating.

Employment coach Jemma Cooper came up with idea after she realised that some her clients were going days without food and were being forced to sell personal belongings to survive.

Staff rallied around and emptied their wardrobes of unwanted clothes and bought a little bit extra in their weekly food shop to give people a helping hand.

Mrs Cooper said: “Two weeks ago I found out that one of my clients had not eaten for two days and had sold her phone just to put electric on the meter and to feed her baby.

“I knew that times were hard for everyone, including people who work, but I couldn't believe there were people in my local community struggling so much and it gave me an idea.

“I love the fact that I work for a company that gives back to the community and I love that we help people to get back into work, but I also felt we could all do a little more to help.”

And two people who have benefited from support from the group and today’s event spoke of their appreciation.

Mother-of one Karen Murdock (CORRECT) said: “I was one of those people who was struggling to pay for food and heating and without the help of everyone at the centre I don’t know whether I would have been able to cope.”

The 21-year-old has managed to secure an apprenticeship with Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council which is due to start after Easter after receiving help to fill out her application form.

And Carol Wanstall (CORRECT) added: “They have helped to learn how to look after my money and have helped me do loads of different courses. I now do charity work in the Cancer Research shop on the High Street and I still come in here nearly every day.”

PPDG has teamed up with the Trussell Trust, a foodbank which has just set up in the town, so that they are able to refer clients who need help with food.