Crook wartime-themed community project scoops award

published on 26 Apr 2019

Crook Awards

Crook Salvation Army received recognition for its innovative Second World War-themed free social project – the Victory Programme - at Durham County Council’s Area Action Partnership Ten Year Anniversary awards.


The staff and volunteers at the Salvation Army project, run from Queen Street (DL15 8QQ), picked up the prize at an event on Wednesday 24 April 2019 at Hardwick Hall Hotel in Sedgefield, Co Durham.

The Victory Programme is a six-week course inspired by the community spirit and resourcefulness created during the Second World War. Over six weeks, the trainees cook tasty budget meals together, learn from wartime economising, share their own budgeting tricks, test budget versus luxury brands, all while making new friends.

The programme piloted in Crook and has since expanded to Blaydon and Sunderland.

Eight people graduated from the most recent course – among them was Colin Proud, 64. Colin was encouraged to attend by his two daughters who attended an earlier course.

He said: “Neither of my daughters could cook at all and the Victory Programme helped them with their families, so I thought I’d do it too! It’s been great being part of the course. I’ve enjoyed getting more confident in cooking as I didn’t have any cooking experience. For my dinners in the past, I would cook sausage, egg and chips, but nothing as much as stews or baking.

“I’ve always lived with family but in the last couple of years I’ve been on my own and I find I tend not to much bother with cooking because of this. I often ate out but I now do the cooking myself.  It’s changed a lot about how I cook at home - now, I tend to make dinners rather than just snack and I try new things and have a go now. I can even do a Sunday dinner!

“It’s fantastic what I’ve learnt myself - this course has helped enormously. I have a better appreciation of food and of eating healthier.”

Victory Programme Co-ordinator Paula Gray said: “We’re so pleased with the success of the Victory Programme since we first started it in 2014. We’ve had a great opportunity to bring together our community for fun, informal cooking sessions and swapped ideas and recipes for eating on a budget.

“The award from Durham County Council is a wonderful recognition of all we’ve achieved in this time but, more than that, in all our graduates have accomplished –from learning to cook for the first time, to better managing their finances to simply making new friends and facing their own personal challenges. We’re looking forward to continuing the programme and seeing the transformation it brings to people’s lives.”

The anniversary awards recognised the outstanding work of public, partners and staff in making the 14 area action partnerships a success over the past ten years, delivering more than 6,000 community projects and helping improve the lives of people of all ages. Each Area Action Partnership chose a project as their ‘project without equal’ from the past decade, with Crook winning for the 3 Town Partnership.

Councillor Brian Stephens – the council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “This event is about thanking everyone who has contributed to the success of Area Action Partnerships (AAPs) over the last ten years and recognising the difference they have made to people’s lives.

“The projects highlighted demonstrate just how great an impact AAPs have. They empower communities to tackle the issues that matter to them, whether that be raising the aspirations of children and young people or providing social activities for older people.”

For more information about Crook Salvation Army’s Victory Programme contact Paula Gray by telephone on 01388 762 655.