The new centre at Miners Hall, Red Hill, Durham, Co Durham, DH14BD, will have its “Grand Opening” on Friday 15 November from 2pm where the public and press will be able to meet the volunteers and see what the centre has to offer.
The centre will be open for two days a week (10am – 3pm, Wednesday – Thursday) offering help and support for individuals and for the community as a whole. The centre will allow people to learn new skills, provide support with welfare problems and support for people looking for work. The centre will also become a hub for the local community to campaign on welfare changes.
With devastating cuts, such as the Bedroom Tax, housing benefit cuts and ATOS to name a few, the centre will introduce Benefit Buddying, which will offer peer-to-peer support for many of the most vulnerable people who will suffer as a result of these cuts and who have difficulties with benefit claims.
With unemployment running at 22,700 in County Durham – the largest number of any local authority area in the North East and over 4,000 unemployed young people – the centre’s services will be a vital resource for the local community adversely affected by government’s cuts to services and social security payments.
Unite regional secretary Karen Reay said: “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.”
David Hopper 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 regional community coordinator Joe Rollin said: “I am really pleased that we are opening this centre in Durham where the local community is in great need of support and this centre will go some way to providing that assistance.
“Our experience of working with local groups and individuals ensures that issues which matter to people are campaigned for. This centre will become a focal point for making those changes.”
Unite has already opened four such centres this year – in Barnsley, Belfast Cinderford and Tower Hamlets in east London.