More than 200 people have signed up to be community connectors in the East Sunderland area.
The scheme, started a year ago by the Sunderland City Council’s East Area Committee, allows people in the Doxford, Hendon, Millfield, Ryhope and St Michael’s wards to get involved.
Community connectors can help people living in the East Area find out what is going on locally and how to get involved in social activities.
Connectors can provide information and advice about available support, help people find activities and help people meet more people in their community.
They can also provide names, places and telephone numbers for activities, services and support.
Councillor Ellen Ball, a Ryhope councillor, is chair of the East Area.
She said: “Connectors work with individuals, they work with groups, with organisations.
“They can help by sign-posting and, as the name suggests, making connections.
“People in our communities and neighbourhoods are a wealth of knowledge.
“With all the pressures and changes to public services, connectors are a grassroots link in our communities.”
The connectors are spread across the East Sunderland area with community connectors hubs established at five community venues. These are: The Box Youth Centre, Doxford; CHANCE, Hendon; St Mark’s Community Association, Millfield; Ryhope Community Association, Ryhope; St Nicholas Church, St Michael’s.
These hubs provide a physical presence directly in the heart of each community for residents and services to use.
Each hub will be supporting and delivering activities which reduce social isolation, supporting people with disabilities and their carers, and allowing services to deliver outreach sessions, as well as providing community groups with meeting and networking opportunities.
Anyone is able to be a community connector, as long as they live, volunteer or work in the East Area and are willing to give up a few hours a week.
Ideal candidates are those who already find that friends, family and neighbours often come to them for advice on where to go with particular issues or problems.
Paula Hunt is a Ryhope connector. She said: “I have lived in Ryhope for 32 years. I do like to help and I am aware that I do not have all the answers.
“But, I can help by sign-posting people to others. The community connector role has given me even more contacts to signpost people to for help and support.”
Sunderland City Council has five area committees: North, Coalfield, East, Washington and West.
Contact your ward councillor or email@example.com for more information on being a connector.