Salt of the Earth is a partnership between North Yorkshire County Council and the Darlington and Stockton Times to celebrate acts of kindness across our communities. For the latest feature highlighting the impact of good deeds in the county, Janet Gleeson pays a visit to the Living Rooms in Northallerton.

THE Living Rooms is the kind of place anyone and everyone can feel at home – and that’s just what volunteers like Jo and Pam are aiming at. For visitor Mark it’s helped give him a special place where he has a family who support and never judge.

The whole point of the project is providing a place where it’s okay not to be okay, an open house where all are valued. Set up by the churches of Northallerton, who put in 60 per cent of the funding, it is also backed by many other agencies.

Chairman Steve Cowie, community pastor of the New Life Baptist Church, says organisers have been astonished at how popular it has become since opening in December. Based in a former store in the Garthway Arcade, Northallerton, it is also the home for Hambleton Foodshare.

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Steve says: “We are driven by our faith, but we are not here to push faith, we are open to everyone. The church is integrated into the fabric of the town, working with vulnerable people, but we wanted to take it outside the church building.

"When we carried out a survey of what was needed, the concerns were mental health, well being and social inclusion, so that is what we tried to do.”

Mark says: “This place has helped massively, I don’t have much family, I have problems with alcohol addiction and have been in a really dark place. I can come here and can talk totally openly and there is no judgement, the support is brilliant.”

Darlington and Stockton Times:

A fellow visitor adds: “I don’t like to talk much but I really like coming here, I can do crafts and the volunteers are lovely.”

Volunteer Jo retired early from her job in a council’s legal department. “I love being here, the time goes so quickly," she says. "We wanted to create a family and I think that is what we have done. We did a lot to get the word out into the community, and we have been a bit blown away by the popularity of it.”

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Jo tells the story of four elderly gentlemen who were alone and started to come independently, but soon started chatting and now meet up regularly and support each other.

Pam adds: “We have had some very raw moments and I am so pleased that we have been able to be here for people. We just value them for who they are, it is their space.”

The Living Rooms has a large table and kitchen area for crafts and discussions, as well as comfortable sofas and a quiet table where people can just sit and not have to say anything.

They also have a faith room if people want to join in at the beginning and end of sessions. It’s open from 10am to 1pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. See for more information.

  • Do you know someone who is going the extra mile in their community? Get involved and nominate them to feature in the Salt of The Earth movement by email at