LOTTO cash is being used to help drive loan sharks out of East Durham.
Half a million pounds of funding has transformed a former church hall into a community centre where people can find financial advice.
Horden Centennial Hall is to be a base for a regional credit union, in a bid to stop residents from turning to loan sharks.
The centre also has a suite of computers, which will allow people to find online benefit information and make payments.
The old St Mary’s Church hall was officially opened by the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowden, with a blessing by the Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Reverend Mark Bryant.
John Barnett, chairman of the centre and of Horden Colliery Residents’ Association, said: “We have had a big problem for a long time with loan sharks and the only way for less well off people to access a decent loan is through a credit union.”
NE First, the credit union for Durham County and Gateshead, will use the centre every Wednesday, between 9.30am and 10.30am.