Middlesbrough Councillors have joined forces to help those in need, both at home and abroad.

The independent, Labour and Conservative members have pledged to work throughout the year on the charitable initiative.

The cross-party project was launched by Cllr Joan McTigue who first visited an orphanage in Chennai, India in 1982.

On her next trip she took a suitcase full of clothes and toys, and later secured support from a shipping company to send out a much larger consignment of aid.

And Cllr McTigue has now joined forces with Cllrs Alma Hellaoui, Janet Thompson, Brian Hubbard and David Coupe to form a small committee to deliver support to wherever it’s needed most.

Middlesbrough Council Chief Executive Tony Parkinson also stepped in to offer storage room for donations in the Town Hall.

An appeal on social media has already seen families donate unwanted toys and clothes that will be given as Christmas gifts to children in care and others in need, and the initiative looks set to gather momentum in the new year.

toys collected for distribution by Middlesbrough Council

Councillor McTigue said: “All too often we hear that goods and supplies are simply not getting to those who really need them – this way they will, be that locally or abroad.

“What we throw away here can mean the world to children who have nothing – for some it might be the first pair of shoes or the one and only toy they have ever had.

“Our aim is to develop a rolling year-round programme so that we always have something to give to someone in need – wherever they are, here or in the Third World.

“I’d also like to think it’s something other towns could take up because it really shows how we can make a difference for those in need by putting politics aside and working together.”

Applauding the Councillors’ efforts, Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: “What a great example of an incredible community effort from Councillors, officers and members of the public.

“We’ve been through a really difficult year, but it’s a year that’s really brought out the best in people, so thanks to everyone for getting stuck in and making this happen.

“We’re showing the world that we will get through this, and that 2021 will be a better year for everyone.”

Anyone who would like to donate clothes or toys can call 01642 827073 or email joanmctigue@btinternet.com to arrange collection.