Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson will open an extension to an East Durham foodbank next month.
Charity Foodbank East Durham Trust says the roll-out of Universal Credit scheme across the area has led to it stepping up its efforts in relation to emergency food parcels in former mining communities.
The trust will be supported by the former Brookside star as it opens a new storage facility for its Peterlee foodbank next Saturday, March 2.
Universal Credit is part of the Government's Welfare Reform package and was rolled out in East Durham just over a year ago.
The trust says that it has since seen demand for food parcels, benefit advice and debt support increase so much that the additional storage space has been dubbed 'The Universal Credit Room.'
Chief Executive Malcolm Fallow said: "The introduction of Universal Credit has had a devastating impact on vulnerable people in communities like East Durham.
"Along with other austerity measures, we are seeing more and more people pushed into poverty. Food parcels are just one aspect of this and we have had to convert a former office space to cope with demand.”
Welcoming the support of Ricky Tomlinson, he added: "It gives the staff and volunteers a great boost to have our work recognised by someone like Ricky who is not afraid to
put his head above the parapet and support vulnerable people."
The actor is in the region as he appears later in the day at Redhills in Durham in support of the Durham Miners Gala, and the Chair of the Friends of the Gala Dave Anderson added,: Although our last East Durham pit closed 25 years ago we continue to do everything in our power to support the work of organisations like East Durham Trust as they try to deal with the social and economic fallout of closures."