Darlington’s popular Pick, Pie and a Pint initiative has picked up a national award in the annual Local Government Chronicle (LGC) awards.

The awards ceremony was held virtually last night (28 October) for the first time ever and was hosted by Justin Webb, a presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. Pick, Pie and a Pint fought off competition from more than ten other shortlisted councils to take the Community Involvement award.

Organised by Darlington Cares and supported by Darlington Borough Council, and many other local businesses, Pick Pie and a Pint has seen hundreds of volunteers take to the town centre every month (March-October) from around 4pm to pick up litter, socialise and then enjoy a free pie and a pint or a soft drink as a reward for their efforts.

In school holidays family-friendly events have been held to involve younger members of the community. The event has been held for the past three years with around 6,000 bags of rubbish collected by keen volunteers. The recent pandemic has put a hold on these for the time being.

Established eight years ago, Darlington Cares works with employers across the borough to create and coordinate volunteering opportunities that will help the local community. Alongside Pick, Pie and a Pint, other successful projects include Busy Readers, volunteer recruitment fairs, helping with food banks, Christmas appeals, parks auction and many more projects that support the most vulnerable people in the community.

Last year, through Darlington Cares, more than 4,000 volunteers worked for 15,600 hours on projects to help the local community. Those working on the Pick, Pie and a Pint scheme, were rewarded with 1,000 pies.

Angela Howey, Chair of Darlington Cares, said: “I am delighted that we have won this award. It is testimony to the truly amazing work we are doing. Litter is an issue which arouses deep feelings in the community and we have seen it is important to support the Town in addressing this.

“Also, by keeping it fun and sociable, we have been able to make true friendships with local people.”

Councillor Heather Scott, Leader of Darlington Borough Council, added:

“This is wonderful news for all of the volunteers who have given their time and energy to pick up litter in the town.

“Over the years the council has been delighted to support the work of Darlington Cares. The volunteers make a huge difference to the lives of local people in many different ways. It is thrilling and heart-warming to see them achieve the national recognition they deserve, well done.”

Darlington Cares offers a range of volunteering opportunities to local employers and residents all of which aim to help the local community. They can be contacted via Chelsea.johnson@darlington.gov.uk