Approximately 250 people attended to honour the opening, with an eclectic mix of industrial workers, local MP’s and Unite activists.
“The people of Durham are very resilient and they've been through tough times before, but they do it because they bond, they come together and they find ways of sharing resources,” said Julie Ward, Labour campaigner.
This clear feeling of togetherness was highlighted by the hand-crafted tapestries of support hanging on the face of the outside marquee and within the DMA building where the community centre would reside. Meanwhile traditional band added a cheerful soundtrack to the afternoons largely somber dialogue.
Various key figureheads of the campaign took to the steps of the headquarters at the close of the event in order to make speeches; a melancholic chorus of onrushing freight trains accompanied their dialogue sporadically, reinforcing the industrial life left within an area that has the lowest employment rate within the North. Unite community co-ordinator Joe Rollin commented that a conservative government likened to Margaret Thatcher’s of previous years had destroyed the opportunities of those located in towns of industry.
“Only a couple of weeks ago volunteers in Barnsley had to refer a miner to the food bank who had worked underground for 25 years, if that’s a symptom of modern Britain I think we should all be disgusted.”
As we approached and interviewed those closest to the project they were keen to map out their goals and aims, but were more than aware of the struggles they faced in order to achieve the same success the nearest Barnsley branch had earned after its opening six months ago.
“We are only one office, but we hope to spread the word across these areas and gain important links,” said Trevor, a volunteer for the Durham branch.
The occasion was geared towards celebration, even though the topic of economic deprivation was never far from the lips of those who sought to highlight the importance of the event.
Regardless of any doubts about the future of the region, this was a momentous occasion for Durham and a chance to rid the area of a great modern depression.