North East communities tackle Covid through high spirits

Daisy Arts runs Covid-safe adult craft sessions on Friday mornings. Photo Credit: Daisy Arts
Daisy Arts runs Covid-safe adult craft sessions on Friday mornings. Photo Credit: Daisy Arts

From Friday, September 18, stricter lockdown measures were introduced for parts of North East England which included Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham. 

Following the announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday, October 12, the North East has now gone into a tier two ‘high alert’ level, which holds similar restrictions to those introduced in September. 

Tier 2 means that different households cannot mix indoors unless part of a support bubble. 

In the past few months, areas within South West Durham have seen many community projects and initiatives, some of which existed before the Covid-19 pandemic. 

These have ranged from doorstep giftbags created by Daisy Arts, a community arts organisation based in Bishop Auckland, to hampers and meals provided by Feeding Families, a North East based charity. 

Managing director of Daisy Arts, Jane Crawford said: “We created doorstep giftbags, activity packs for families, and journal packs for teenagers to write their thoughts down or to do their own artwork in.

“We also did three weeks of theatrical summer school during the summer.”

Ms Crawford said the summer school was held in Bishop Auckland, Shildon and on the final week, at the Low Barns Nature Reserve.

She said: “For some, it was the first time they had engaged with other young people since the beginning of lockdown.

“Our organisation received covid emergency funding which was used for face-to-face activities.”

Daisy Arts also run weekly craft sessions for adults at the No. 42 gallery in Bishop Auckland, on Friday mornings. 

Since Christmas is now approaching, the North-East based Feeding Families charity which covers Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham and Cleveland, are currently open for families to apply for a Christmas hamper.

As stated on the website, applications opened on October 6 and will be available until November 30. 

Juliet Sanders, CEO of Feeding Families confirmed they had been delivering to homes in Bishop Auckland, Shildon, Ferryhill, Chilton and Spennymoor. 

Ms Sanders added: “Durham AAP (Area Action Partnership) South Hub covers that area and we received referrals from them.” 

The charity was founded in 2017 and delivered over 3,000 Christmas hampers in 2019 and over 50,000 meals during the covid-19 pandemic. 

Since many events have now moved online, a virtual Christmas Fayre, organised by Danielle Louise Jackman from Newton Aycliffe, has been set up on Facebook to help lift people’s spirits. 

The page is named ‘Virtual Chrimbo Fayre 2020’ and at the time of writing has around one thousand members. 

Among sellers from other locations on the page, there are businesses in the fayre based in Shildon and Bishop Auckland, most of which are small, working-from-home businesses, according to Ms Jackman.

The Shildon based sellers involved in the virtual fayre include Kirstie Jones, owner of Scentsy and Jayne Petty who owns The Heart of Raw.

Bishop Auckland based sellers involved, include Stassy Marie, owner of Treasures for Tinies, Samantha Barber, owner of Queen Bee Custom Prints, Bonnie Williams, owner of Cute Creations, Tracy Smith, owner of Santa Is Coming and Anthony Smith, who owns Munchbox. 


  1. It really is a tragic time, but sometimes I feel we are fundamentally just challenging death itself, and death is a natural occurrence, such as the birth of a child. That’s my contribution for what’s it’s worth – stay safe Shildon.


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