A NEW community shop has opened in Hexham to help families at this difficult time.

Community Grocery Hexham was opened on Monday by national charity the Message Trust, in partnership with Hexham Community Church.

People will be able to become members of the service for £5, but thereafter will be able to buy up to 20 everyday essentials for just £3 per shop.

Inside, members can find a range of products they would expect to find in a supermarket, including fresh fruit and vegetables, tinned goods, baked items, frozen food, sanitary and household items.

They will also have access to a range of services including employment clubs, debt advice, mental wellbeing courses, exploring Christianity and cookery courses.

Andy Hawthorne OBE, chief executive and founder of the Message Trust said: "Since the first lockdown we've seen how hard the impact of Covid-19 has been on people and their families - so many are now struggling to afford their weekly shop.

"We couldn’t stand by and do nothing. Community groceries are all about bridging the gap between supermarkets and foodbanks, making it easier for our members to put food on the table, whilst also providing them with support and courses too.

"We can’t wait to welcome people to the new Hexham Community Grocery from the start of March."

Dale Dawson, of Hexham Community Church has also been appointed as the store's manager. He said the two organisations had already been working together effectively for some time.

Mr Dawson added: "It has been a privilege for Hexham Community Church to partner with the Message Trust to serve the local community over the last couple of years.

"The opening of the Community Grocery will allow us to develop that much further in a time of great need."

The Message Trust said people using Community Grocery Hexham, located in Eden House on Wanless Lane, would save up to £40 on a regular shop. To find out more visit communitygrocery.org.uk #FoodForAll #CommunityGroceryHexham.

The charity also has a grocery in Sharston, Manchester, and is planning to open others in Stockton, Redcar, Bolton, Sheffield, and Wigan, over the coming weeks.