It was a full house at Great Aycliffe Community Aid Partnership meeting last Monday and gone are the days when only 5 or 6 partners attended, Now the numbers are nearer 30. We also had our first Friend of Gacap attending too and a further “Friend of GACAP enrolled.

The last meeting of 2017 was put aside for eating Christmas nibbles and networking and our thanks go to Helen and Aaron from Tesco for their contribution to our increased waistline!

Many thanks to Dawn from More Time UK Café recently reopened after refurbishment, where she too brought some tempting nibbles. The Corned Beef and Potato Pie was my particular favourite and I will be popping in for a coffee and a slice of pie soon.

Ernie Temple on behalf of his wife and himself said he had been honoured to accept a plaque from Alison and Kath celebrating five years they had set up and run the foodbank

Alison from the Foodbank was pleased to announce that the Play Café spoke about in November would commence on 4th January – another example of partners working together.

The secretary said that £221.50 had been collected at Tesco on 16th November, thanks go to those who helped out. A big thank you to Helen at Tesco who do so much to help charities across the town. The money of course is always useful and will go to our discretionary fund. What was good was that we were noticed and recognised in our High Viz Tops and displaying our new banners.

The icing on the cake came from Peter Driver Assistant Secretary when he unveiled GACAP’s much awaited Website launched a month before the deadline.

Val Fawcett from AARMS gave a thought provoking message in respect of the work she is doing with those who are struggling with alcohol addiction. To help raise necessary funds they will be holding a tombola stall at the Thames Centre on Saturday 9th December from 10am till 3pm. Val’s vision for 2018 is for all doctors surgeries to display the information rather than just Bewick Crescent Surgery.

Allison White from Aycliffe Cancer Support Group advised partners her group were taking over a shop in the town centre on 11th and 12th December. Her group has got bigger and lots of people are struggling. On Monday MacMillan Welfare Rights will be in the shop giving advice. There will be a tombola stall, and clothes for sale or to give away to people who can’t afford them. She said they have been developing Chemo Bags to be given to people who are taking the drug. They contain all things needed: pen, pencil, puzzle books, tissues. Christmas is a bad time of the year for all who are going through Chemotherapy or are a carer for someone taking the treatment.

Before the networking and refreshments, Chris Palmer from St Mary’s alerted all to an article in the Northern Echo under help and advice for older people. GAMP had funded a programme called “Beat the Scammer” set to alert older people on the lengths people will go to fraudulently extract money from people, who were isolated and vulnerable.

Chairman Ron Mitchie closed the meeting, giving thanks to Officers and Partners for their help and the close teamwork. He thanked Liane and Disc for the use of their meeting room and for the refreshments.

He concluded by wishing Peace, Happiness and Prosperity to all partners in 2018 and best wishes for this special Christmas Time.

Please do your very best to attend the next meeting on Monday 5th February at Disc Offices at the new time of 3.45pm giving time for a cuppa and a chat before we start.