A new community kitchen is helping to provide hundreds of meals for residents who are vulnerable or isolating across County Durham.
The transformation of Eastlea Community Centre in Seaham is now helping to provide much-needed support to residents in East Durham, thanks to funding support from Durham County Council.
The council’s East Durham Area Action Partnership (AAP) provided a £5,000 grant contribution from local members Cllrs Eddie and Jennifer Bell’s Neighbourhood Budgets, in order to refurbish the outdated kitchen.
A further grant of £10,000 was also issued by the National Lottery’s Awards for All Community Fund.
With additional appliances and food preparation sinks included in the fixtures and fittings, the community centre has been putting the new kitchen to the test to support its local residents.
In a six-week period, almost 400 lunches have been delivered or picked up from the centre. It also enabled vulnerable support groups to prepare, cook and enjoy a socially distanced Christmas dinner over the festive season.
Irene Waller, manager of Eastlea Community Centre, said: “During a typical year, the kitchen can be used up to 2,000 times to prepare refreshments and food for group activities, as well as helping to bring people together socially so we can’t wait to see it operating under full steam and serving the community we support.
“Our grateful and sincere thanks are sent to Cllrs Eddie and Jennifer Bell for their consideration and the Awards for All Community Fund for helping us to realise our dream.”
Cllr Brian Stephens, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhood and local partnerships, said: “Community centres are at the heart of so many communities across County Durham and it is fantastic to see how they are continuing to provide support for their nearby residents, thanks to funding from our AAPs and members’ Neighbourhood Budgets.
“The coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyone across County Durham and many residents may be struggling as a result of the return to a national lockdown. However, support is available in local communities and I would encourage anyone who needs it to reach out for further help.”
More information about the council’s AAPs and the services available can be found at www.durham.gov.uk/aaps