Actor Tim Healy has urged people to donate money to help North East children living in poverty and hardship during the coronavirus outbreak.

North East native Tim, who is patron of Children North East, recorded a video from his home asking the public to support those most in need during this difficult time.

In the heartfelt video the Auf Wiedersehen, Pet actor said: "Covid-19 is affecting the way all of us live our lives but it’s disadvantaged communities that are going to get hit the hardest by this terrible virus.

"Child poverty in the North East of England was already higher than most other areas of the country even before the coronavirus outbreak.

"Many many parents have lost their livelihoods and are finding it so difficult to feed their children or even to give them basic necessities."

Tim goes on to express his pride at being patron of the region’s oldest independent children’s charity, Children North East, which is due to celebrate its 130th anniversary next year, and asks people to donate to their text giving campaign by texting HOPE to 70490.

Texts cost £5 plus the standard rate message.

Leigh Elliott, chief executive of Children North East, said she was hugely grateful to Tim for supporting the fundraising appeal. She said it was important to acknowledge the impact the coronavirus outbreak was having on children, young people and their families.

"Thankfully, children with coronavirus generally suffer much milder symptoms than adults, but that does not mean children are immune to the effects of this terrible disease.

"The financial uncertainty that has followed in the wake of Covid-19 means many families in our region are being plunged into greater poverty as parents, particularly those dependent on the gig economy, have lost their incomes.

"At the same time school closures mean many children and young people are no longer in receipt of nutritious free meals.

"Here in the North East we have more families trapped in poverty than in most other parts of England. People are losing their livelihoods, leaving them unable to afford even the most basic necessities."

Like many other charities across the region, Children North East is dealing with the loss of income from scheduled events and fundraising activities, leaving a huge hole in its projected income stream.

"Children North East has a long history of adapting its services to suit the needs of its beneficiaries," Leigh added.

"Since the coronavirus outbreak, we have distributed food parcels to families who are self-isolating; we have delivered stationery packs to school pupils who struggle to afford resources and we’ve set up online counselling for teenagers and young adults who are experiencing isolation and anxiety as a result of social distancing.

"It is the charity’s 130th anniversary next year and I am proud that Children North East continues to adapt to change in such a robust way."

To donate £5 to the Children North East coronavirus appeal, you can text HOPE to 70490 - texts cost £5 plus one standard rate message. Alternatively you can make a donation via their Facebook page or on their website at www.children-ne.org.uk/urgent-appeal