A little about us and what we do

Great Aycliffe Community Aid Partnership was formed in 2013. The aim was to bring all local charities and organisations who offered help and support to families or individuals in need together.
Referring those residents living within Great Aycliffe stricken by crisis, disadvantaged or ill fortune to the right resource or partners within Great Aycliffe to satisfy their needs, or to be able to obtain surefooted information, advice and guidance,

The organisation works within a complex landscape of voluntary, community and social enterprises. The changing nature of society, combined with reductions in Central and local government funding has meant the need to support key sections of society has never been so acute.

A detailed database of organisations and services is available for partners’, so referrals can be made to the right organisation dependant on the persons needs quickly and effectively. the group will act as a link and draw down support from other bodies by acting as a referring/first point of contact organisation within but not limited to the Great Aycliffe Area.

The partnership meets on the first Monday of each month where guest speaks and/or partners share experiences and opportunities about their organisation/group can bring to the overall mission statement of the partnership.
Currently approximately 35 partners, make up the data base. There is a mix of Partners currently share information enabling those in need to get better support. Currently much of partnership is made up of volunteers although there are also some paid staff too. Nevertheless, there are times when paid staff work over and above their 9 to 5 to help support those in need thus becoming volunteers themselves.

GACAP, late 2017 widened its scope to include Friends of GACAP, also Associate partners of GACAP allowing them the opportunity to work with companies on Aycliffe Business Park who can in turn help partners to reach out further to help those residents living within Great Aycliffe who are stricken by crisis.


Syd Howarth MBE, founder
Syd Howarth Editor of Newton Aycliffe’s community newspaper, The Newton News, had an idea to form a new organisation in Great Ayclffe, bringing together all parties involved or interested in supporting families and people in need in the area.

There was a number of organisations operating in the area providing services to families in need, these included a well needed and much used Foodbank operating from St Clare’s Church, by Trussel Trust. There were also various churches and other community groups helping people there come into contact with in similar difficult circumstances. Syd was also aware of other organisation who offered advice or assistance to those in need or other services who signposted people to any of the charities or organisations already mention above once they had identified that the person or family was in need of help. Syd was aware that demand was increasing for these kind of services due to changes in government legislation and suggested that if all these efforts could be co-ordinated then it could be possible to improve the services offered to those in need in our community.

It was Syd’s vision that a partnership of all these different organisation could be formed and in the process the new organisation would raise awareness of the problems faced by those less fortunate in our community and also bring our community together to support those in need. The ideal situation would be for all the partners of the new organisation to be able to provide or know who could provide for all the needs for a family in crisis, i.e. food, clothing, furniture, bedding, white goods and household goods an either provide or refer to those who can provide for whatever their specific requirements are without adding to the stress of the person having to do this for themselves.

Syd’s plan was to call a meeting of those potentially interested in being involved and from there to elect a steering group to take this idea forward with the aid of drawing up a constitution to tick all the legal and charity commission boxes. To this end a meeting was called for Monday 16th September 2013 at 7pm in St Clare’s Church. The response was excellent and after some discussion everyone agreed it would be an advantage for a partnership to be formed. From that night itself organisations were already talking to each other, quickly realising how more people could benefit from an efficient co-ordinated approach.

A Steering Group was elected and met on a regular basis to form the partnership as quickly as possible and aims and objects were produced and the name Great Aycliffe Community Aid Partnership was agreed.

During this period, organisations had already started to work together proving how effective the organisation could be and a date was set for the inaugural meeting on 12th December 2013.
Current GACAP officers as of 2017
At this inaugural meeting, officers were elected: Pauline Chambers Chairman, Steven Mitton Vice Chairman, Joan Mitchie Secretary and Liane Robinson Treasurer.

Meetings were held throughout 2014 and progress made on foodbank supplies, collection boxes etc. Website and social media was implemented to raise the profile of GACAP.

It became clear the organisation needed to expand the service and the proposal to build an extension on Agnew Community Centre’s land was muted and accepted as a big step forward should funding be obtained to pay for this extension which will act as an HG for GACAP.

The New premises could accommodate another foodbank distribution point, extra nursery places for the existing nursery, a storage and packing area for food parcels, interview rooms and become a general welfare hub for the area covering all aspects of the community’s needs.

GACAP worked with local county councillor who agreed to assist and support the plans in which actual plans were drawn up for the extension.

GACAP drew up a business plan and consultations were ready for a bid for money from major funding bodies.

Late in 2015 Agnew Community Centre withdrew their support for the building on their land.

GACAP found a permanent meeting place by courtesy of DISC in Sapphire House, by the Blue Bridge in Newton Aycliffe.

There was several attempts to secure land/building to allow the vision of a HQ for GACAP with their Welfare Hub liaising with partners who do not have a base of their own to benefit from a building in line with their original vision.

To this end the old Elmfield School Site was considered, this proposal looked good initially but was unsuitable when building developments for the area was withdrawn. The vision grew momentum with several sites being considered but unfortunately found unsuitable, this included the possible use of the temporary library building for a Welfare Hub.

At the 2017 AGM a change in officers saw a new chairman and vice chairman with their own vision for the growth of GACAP. Chairman Ron Mitchie, (a member of the original steering group) Geoff Batchelor Vice Chairman, Joan Mitchie (formerly Clark) remained as Secretary, Liane Robinson (formerly Taylor) remained as Treasurer and Peter Driver was later seconded as Assistant Secretary. The MOU which was accepted at inaugural meeting was changed to a constitution. The partnership agreed to the formation of a Management Committee with included all officers and up to 4 partners.
Ron Mitchie (chairman) and Joan Mitchie (secretary)
Further developments included opening up the Partnership to incorporate “Friends of GACAP” and “Associates of GACAP”. “Friends in GACAP” would include members of the public who have a genuine empathy for assisting those in need and relate to GACAP’s expansion plans. Associates of GACAP would include businesses and organisations with a heart for the community. The Website is currently being redesigned for launch in October 2017.

Currently in the latter months of 2017 hopes are high in respect of a building that could be leased to develop the growing plans of a GACAP HQ with rooms to let for offices and meetings along with their original vision for a Community Welfare Hub.