A COMMUNITY hub has been launched to reach out to those left struggling from the effects of Government cuts.
The Unite union has teamed up with Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) to set up the centre at the Miners’ Hall in Red Hill, Durham.
Leaders say it will become a resource for those most in need of help to deal with cuts, changes in benefits such as the bedroom tax and the tests carried out by ATOS, the company contracted by the Government to carry out the fitness-to-work assessments.
It will also launch a Benefit Buddying scheme, offering peer-to-peer support for those who are most vulnerable and are facing difficulties, and campaign for welfare rights.
The centre will open two days, with the volunteers also offering support, help to learn new skills and guidance as people search for work. The official launch is on Friday, November 15, at 2pm.
Officials say the centre comes as unemployment in County Durham stands at 22,700, the largest number of any local authority area in the North East, with more than 4,000 of those young people.
Dave Hopper, general secretary of the DMA, said: “We have opened the community support centre in partnership with Unite in a response to the vicious attacks on the benefits system brought in by the Con-Dem Government.
“The last Conservative Government decimated our coal industry, now this Government is making the people of the North East suffer all over again.”
Unite’s regional secretary Karen Reay added: “This exciting development in conjunction with the Durham Miners’ Association brings Unite back into our industrial heartlands.
“Our members can be confident that we are aware of their local issues and that Unite is seeking to work with the people of Durham to address them.
“By working with local campaign groups and politicians we can ensure that our members’ voices are heard and that issues that matter to them are top of the local agenda.”
The centre will be open from 10am to 3pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays.