Citizens Advice Northumberland is setting up a new financial advice and debt management project in Ponteland with the help of a four-figure grant from Newcastle Building Society.

The charity is working with the local Town Council, Parish Council and High School in the town to reach families in the area facing financial difficulties and provide local access to the support and advice they need.

A pilot project is now up and running in the Ponteland Community Hub, with drop-in sessions at Ponteland High School also being planned.

Citizens Advice Northumberland is also looking to train a member of the school’s support team to act as an advisor to parents and guardians of children at the school in the first instance, with a view to eventually opening up the service to the whole community.

A £3,000 Newcastle Building Society grant has enabled the charity to get the project up and running, as well as covering its costs for the next nine months.

The funding has been provided through the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which offers grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network.

Northumberland Citizens Advice provides free, confidential and impartial advice across a wide range of topics and operates from ten different locations around the county.

It helps over 23,000 people deal with around 50,000 problems every year, and manages a number of bespoke projects in association with other charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, the Money Advice Service and the British Gas Energy Trust.

Thomas Monaghan, funding manager at Citizens Advice Northumberland, says: “Ponteland is generally recognised as an affluent community, but as with anywhere, there are pockets of deprivation that can go unseen and unresolved without proactive intervention.

“We’ve managed to help a number of local families after just a few weeks of working in the area, which demonstrates the need for the services we’re developing, and we’re looking to involve as many community partners as we can to ensure that people know where to come if they think they need help.

“We know it can be difficult, but addressing financial problems is all about taking that first step towards finding the support you need and we’re trying to make doing so as accessible as possible for people in Ponteland.

“This project has the potential to help dozens of local families get themselves back onto an even keel, and the generous backing we’ve had from Newcastle Building Society has provided a real springboard towards getting everything going.”

Charlotte Williams, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s Broadway branch in Ponteland, adds: “This year, the Society has focused its grant-giving on the charities and projects helping our communities recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

“Semi-rural communities such as ours can often mask a substantial amount of hidden deprivation and the expertise needed to help address these problems can sometime feel like it’s a long way away.

“Citizens Advice Northumberland’s focus on connecting communities with the right information and advice matches our own and we’re very pleased to be part of something that will make a long-term difference to local people.”

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has contributed over £2.1m in grants and partnerships to a wide variety of charities and projects across the region, including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Prince’s Trust.

The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 151,000 people.

The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.