Trainee Durham vicars live in 'hard-hit' former pit areas

Trainee vicars Michael Volland and Emma Parker Image copyright Keith Blundy
Image caption The ordinands will live in coalfield communities for a year

Trainee Church of England vicars in Durham are to live in former mining areas for a year to experience social deprivation at first hand.

Nine parishes in East Durham are joining forces to increase their congregations by "reaching out" to coalfield communities, the church said.

It includes Easington - an area made famous by the film Billy Elliott about a miner's son who became a dancer.

Parishes taking part include Peterlee, Wheatley Hill and Wingate.

Trainees will also work in areas such as Haswell, Shotton, Castle Eden, Blackhall and Hesleden.

'Social need'

Their pits shut during the 1980s and 1990s with the loss of thousands of jobs.

The Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Revd Mark Bryant, said: "Easington is a district with a high level of social challenge and life is becoming more difficult for more and more people.

"As a church we are determined to do all we can to support people, particularly those for whom is life getting more difficult.

"The benefit for the national church is that we are training ordinands in really difficult parishes, places where we need them to come and serve if the church is to make its presence felt and make an impact in areas of great social need."

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