A community hub has been able to increase its support for families thanks to a North East building society.

Darlington Building Society’s donation of just over £9,000 to the Well Methodist Church, in Darlington, will be spent on ensuring a vital Baby Bank stays open, as well as funding the launch of healthy cooking activities.

The Darlington Baby Bank, established five years ago, is a collection point for donated clothes and baby-related items, including food, toys, pushchairs, prams, nappies, cots, and stairgates.

And the ‘Let’s Cook Together’ initiative is designed for up to six families at a time – adding up to more than 40 families over the lifetime of the project – to engage together in healthy cooking and eating on a budget.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Participating families are also given recipe cards to take home so they can continue their healthier eating habits.

Graham Bright, community pastor at the church in North Road, said: “Both projects make an incredible difference to families who are struggling, and the support of Darlington Building Society adds significantly to what we can do.

“The Baby Bank has helped hundreds of families, and the demand is huge, not just from the immediate area but across the town. This donation from Darlington Building Society means we can keep it going.

“We are lucky to have a fantastic team of volunteers, and it means so much to know we also have a local building society that’s committed to playing a valuable part in the community.”

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Emma Walden, community hub manager, added: “The ‘Let’s Cook Together’ project is already having a massive impact and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Darlington Building Society.”

The donation was made as part of the society’s annual pledge to donate five per cent of its profits to good causes, and distribution director, Louise Thorpe, visited the church to see how the money is making such a difference.

“Being able to see at first-hand the priceless work that goes on here really brings home the importance of the five per cent pledge,” said Louise. “It’s an amazing example of being able to help those in the most need in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.”

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Louise was joined on the visit by Sarah McIntyre, fund manager for County Durham Community Foundation, which provides administrative support for the society’s five per cent fund, and adds value to its charitable giving.

Donations to the Baby Bank can be made 10am-2pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays; 10.30-2pm on Fridays; or while attending Sunday service at 10.30am. There is a particular need at present for cots, double-buggies, and stairgates.

Other services provided at The Well Methodist Church include: a thrift shop and café; community garden with play area; a community pantry; and distribution of cut-price groceries through ‘The Bread and Butter Thing’ charity, plus a range of activities.

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