Hot nourishing meals are being offered to vulnerable people in Willington, Crook and surrounding areas, with support from a local council partnership.

Using taxes awarded by Durham County Council’s 3 Towns Area Action Partnership (AAP), Willington Open Door Church is providing hot takeaways for people in need, as well as delivering essential grocery and toiletry supplies.

The grant, of £9,500, is also being used to support food bank services to over 169 registered households in the area, as well as to people who visit the food bank and vulnerable residents who do not want to officially register for support but whom the church knows are in need. Money is also being used to deliver activity packs for families in financial hardship and to distribute surplus supermarket stock to people who require assistance, as part of the national Fareshare initiative.

All 14 of County Durham’s AAPs have been allocated £100,000 each which they can offer to projects which are supporting communities during the ongoing effects of the lockdowns. An additional £100,000 is available to support countywide initiatives.

Sue Hine, of Willington Open Door Church, said: “Thank you for the grant that has enabled us to continue to feed local people. The numbers accessing the church have tripled since lockdown started and the fact we can now deliver a weekly hot meal to older, or isolated people at home is making a big difference. One recipient said it had made his day. People are working together to make a positive difference. If you know of someone that may need help, please contact us on our Facebook page.”

Crook’s St Catherine’s Church dementia support café has also benefited from support through the AAP.

Councillors Patricia Jopling and Anne Reed, ward members for Crook, contributed £3,000 each towards the café’s work from their 3 Towns Partnership Neighbourhood Budgets.

The grants are funding The Meal Orchard project, which delivers hot meals, prepared and cooked by a local company, during the lockdowns. Meals are being provided twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, to elderly and isolated residents and families who are finding it difficult to make ends meet. The project will run in Crook and surrounding areas until mid-July or until the funding is exhausted.

Anyone who would like to refer someone or receive meals themselves from The Meal Orchard should contact Rev Linda Lindsey of St Catherine’s Church on 07940985217.

Sandy Denney, area action partnership coordinator for the 3 Towns Partnership, said: “Many residents have found the past weeks in lockdown very difficult. These two food projects, along with others that we have funded in the 3 towns area, are offering a vital lifeline for our community, ensuring that people have access to nourishing meals during these particularly challenging times. Our partnership was keen to help and it’s fantastic to see the difference they are making in our area.

“Both initiatives have been made possible by many fantastic businesses and organisations. I know the efforts of all the partners who are working together to deliver these schemes is really appreciated.”

The 3 Towns Partnerships can be contacted on 03000 267 538 or via e-mail at [email protected] for further information about their work to identify and tackle community priorities in the Crook, Willington and Tow Law area. Further information about the 14 AAPs which cover the county can be found at

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