High praise for Sunderland charity during Baroness visit

The Rt Hon Baroness Hilary Armstrong pictured during her visit to the Salvation Army's Shakespeare Street HQ in Southwick where she was finding out about the Community Project battling against poverty in the UK.

The Rt Hon Baroness Hilary Armstrong pictured during her visit to the Salvation Army's Shakespeare Street HQ in Southwick where she was finding out about the Community Project battling against poverty in the UK.

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CHARITY chiefs have had a visit from former MP Hilary Armstrong to see the work they do.

The Rt Hon Baroness Hilary Armstrong of Hill Top visited the Salvation Army’s Southwick Community Project in Sunderland, yesterday, which is on the front line of the charity’s battle against poverty in the UK.

Southwick is one of the most deprived areas in the country, with unemployment and social exclusion two of the key challenges faced by families.

The project has been helping residents since 1998 and is now based in a modern, multi-functional building, Austin Family Centre.

It runs a number of services targeted at making a real difference to families, and aims to help every member of the community.

Schemes include children’s breakfast clubs, an emergency food bank and an Employment Plus Local, which helps jobseekers find work. The project’s Daily Bread Cafe is open every weekday and contributes in making the centre a busy and vibrant community hub.

Baroness Armstrong, who worked as a community and youth worker in Southwick during the 1970s and represented North West Durham until 2010, said: “I understand some of the hurdles facing local people in Sunderland, so was keen to visit Southwick Community Project, due to its valuable work as a hub which is making a real difference to the most vulnerable people.”

Graham Wharton, project manager at the Southwick Community Project, said: “It’s always a hive of activity here as there’s so much going on.

“Our services aren’t just for children, or young people, as our programme includes support for older people to help with isolation.

“We’re a centre for the whole community.

“We believe the Southwick Community Project is a great example of how a big difference can be made on a grass-roots level, so we’re delighted that Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top has taken the time to come and see what we do here.”