FAMILIES struggling to make ends meet are being given a helping hand by a new community scheme.
For some people, every day brings a tough choice – whether to heat the home or eat.
Warm and Well on Sea is a partnership between Southend Council, Turning Tides, HARP and the NHS to help people fight the winter chills.
A team of ten trained volunteers visit elderly or vulnerable people in their own homes to make sure everything is being done to keep them warm and well fed.
The volunteers come armed with blankets, canned food and lots of advice about health, bills and benefits.
Warm & Well aims to reduce the number of people going into hospital, help people who are in debt or facing money problems and support people with long-term health problems.
Last year, the Department of Health funded a smaller project and is expanding on it this year because of its success.
The group has done 50 checks since just before Christmas but it wants to reach out and help those struggling on the breadline.
To arrange a free home visit call Anthony Quinn on 01702 220103 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three volunteers speak of their experiences
Ex-fireman Chris Webster, 69, lives in Shoebury.
He got involved in the scheme after carrying out home fire safety checks for people and enjoyed helping others.
He said: “I got involved through SAVS.
“I just wanted to do this. Being an ex-fireman I’ve have seen it all.”
Paul Smith, 62, says often pre-conceived ideas about how people on benefits live couldn’t be further from the truth.
Mr Smith, who lives in Southend, said: “People say they live the life of luxury on benefits. It is a load of rubbish.
“We have all been to places where people have next to nothing.
“Anything we can do to help does make a difference.”
Retired teacher Brian Jacobs, 67, said he enjoyed meeting people and listening to their troubles.
Mr Jacobs, who lives in Shoebury, said: “I had a massive heart attack last year and this has been really good for me.
“I like meeting people and it is just nice to give something back. The older generation has got so many stories, it is nice to reassure them that they are not on their own. There is help there for them at any time.”