The meeting called this Monday by Great Aycliffe Residents’ Association to create a partnership of all organisations helping people in need was very well attended.
In a very useful debate chaired by Syd Howarth various points of view were put forward with the aim of bringing everyone together to provide a co-ordinated approach to alleviate the growing problem of poverty in the community.
Syd made the point that in no way was there a move to duplicate existing services being provided and each partner would retain its own identity.
The aim of the scheme is to bring the partners together to share expertise and aid, to ensure no one slipped through the net. Data and cross referencing should help verification and avoid duplication.
A central storage unit would be made available to the partnership from where goods could be distributed. Negotiations are ongoing to provide the space with a factory owner and Disc at the Blue Bridge Centre.
It is envisaged that food and household goods could be donated in bins for the purpose, placed in town shops and other public premises.
Volunteers would help in the collection and distribution of goods to people who apply for help or who are referred to one of the partners.
Included in the scheme would be providers of furniture, bedding, white goods or any items people in crisis may require. Concern was raised over abuse of the scheme and it was thought these instances were minimal.
One of the aims was to produce a local directory to list every port of call for aid and assistance including all the agencies and voluntary groups such as the Credit Union, CAB, CAP, MIND, Women’s Refuge, Health agencies etc,etc.
Having cleared up any misunderstanding the general concensus was to  arrange a further meeting to form a steering group to decide the way forward.