DEBT-RIDDEN families will be offered help to get back in the black.
The newly-formed Advice group in County Durham will bring together six organisations for the £336,000 project.
The new partnership is a first for the county, bringing with it an accredited “tick” system, telling people which centres can best help them and to what level.
Peter MacLellan is chairman of the Durham Christian Partnership, which runs Durham Money Advice Centre and the County Durham Foodbank.
He said: “Last year we saw an increase from 6,000 to more than 14,000 people needing our foodbank service and, crucially, this new initiative will make it easier for those needing help to get the right level of advice and support.
“This teaming up of organisations is a new way of working for the voluntary and community sector in County Durham, and we are seeking to make the most of scarce resources by sharing where we can, creating better communication systems and working in closer partnership to fill the growing demand.
“It will no longer be a case of people wondering who can help them and where they should go.
“They’ll be able to go into any accredited centre and be linked with the organisation that can best help them.”
Funding of £336,000 was awarded to the new initiative, led by Citizens’ Advice County Durham (CACD), from the Big Lottery Advice Services Transition Fund last year, in recognition of the challenging circumstances advice providers and residents face.
Last year CACD helped more than 20,000 residents, with the largest concerns for County Durham families being welfare, housing, employment and debt.
The six organisations which make up Advice in County Durham are: Citizens Advice County Durham, Age UK County Durham, Durham City and Chester-le-Street Mind, Durham Community Action, Durham Money Advice Centre and Bullion Hall Resource Centre.
It is anticipated the network’s new website www.adviceindurham.org.uk will launch to the public at the end of July.
Anyone who would like to attend the meeting or for more information about registering, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 587 2695.