EAST Durham leaders say there is a “glimmer of hope” during the economic crisis facing the region as people pull together to fight cutbacks.
Hundreds of local activists attended a conference highlighting the impact of austerity measures and welfare reform, where speakers talked about the need to combat government slashing.
The area has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, while various organisations, agencies and charities face tough decisions as they try and balance budgets.
More than 250 people turned out to voice their concerns at the East Durham Trust event.
The trust’s chief executive officer, Malcolm Fallow, said: “We were astonished at the interest shown in the event and we could have filled the conference centre three times over.
“While there is no doubt that the current financial crisis and spending cuts will lead to more inequalities in our community, there is a glimmer of hope to be found in the determination of local people to fight back.”
Among the speakers was Easington MP Grahame Morris.
He told the Mail: “I was really impressed with the turnout. To have over 250 volunteers and representatives from a wide variety of community groups and organisations from across East Durham coming together for a meeting on the growing crisis is a considerable achievement.
He added: “Austerity is entrenching poverty, stifling opportunity, and is a barrier to jobs and growth. It is creating an unfair, and more unequal society.”
The Crisis? What Crisis? This Crisis event also saw workshops on the various ways volunteers are trying to help, including projects such as emergency food parcels and a telephone befriending service.
Mr Fallow added: “We have to do all we can to help communities in crisis”.
Other speakers at the event included Professor Eugene Mills, of NHS North East, and Steve Wyler, chief executive of Locality.