Organisation upbeat about its new direction

Pictured, from left, are Andy Dean, chief executive of Community Action Northumberland, and director David Francis.
Pictured, from left, are Andy Dean, chief executive of Community Action Northumberland, and director David Francis.

A group of people who work together for the benefit of villages across the county met in Whalton Village Hall for the annual general meeting of Community Action Northumberland (CAN).

Although tough decisions have been required due to a reduction in funds, the organisation is looking to the future with optimism after implementing a new direction earlier in the year.

Chairman Adrian Hinchcliffe praised the staff and board for their efforts over the last 12 months and retiring vice presidents and board members for their many years of voluntary service.

There was also a special thank-you for David Francis, who was chief executive for 30 years until Andy Dean took on the role this summer. He will continue working for CAN as director until his retirement in March 2016.

Mr Hinchcliffe presented the annual report and said with the ending of Big Lottery BASIS 2 funding in recent months, the Hexham and Alnwick branches have closed.

It was decided to keep Berwick’s branch open. The main office is now in Pegswood.

Mr Dean gave an upbeat assessment of how the organisation’s new direction will benefit communities.

It is focusing its efforts on acting as a voice for rural residents on issues that affect their daily lives.

CAN will try to influence policy makers and ensure that people in these villages and hamlets are not disadvantaged compared to their counterparts in urban areas. This includes running and managing projects.

Its oil purchasing group OilCAN, which reduces the costs for householders, last year supplied more than 300 members with 818,000 litres of heating oil. There were also presentations about heating equipment and initiatives at the meeting.