A PROJECT helping transform the lives of people in need in Southend is proving so popular it has launched an appeal for more volunteers to help it continue its inspirational work.

The Storehouse project at the Coleman Street Comm- unity Centre offers clothes, food parcels, tea, coffee and meals to people in need.

Since the start of the year the project has seen the number of people turning up leap from 200 a year to 1,200, meaning resources are getting stretched to the limit.

Over the same period the number of volunteers had increased from eight to more than 40, but the project is now asking for more volunteers to come forward to assist with fundraising, volunteer co-ordination and helping attendees.

Simon Matthews, community pastor at Southend Vineyard, which runs the scheme, said: “We need to step up our fundraising because we have huge demands on our food budget.

“We have already spent this year’s budget and it’s meant to last until March.”

The number of food parcels given out leapt from around 75 a month to between 250 and 300.

In an average month the centre provides more than 4,000 cups of tea, 4,000 breakfasts and 600 lunches.

As well as providing help with things like food and clothing, the Storehouse also works with groups which provide support to people in need.

Working with the YMCA’s back-to-work training, the centre also helps people get the experience and confidence needed to get back into the workplace.

Mr Matthews said: “We have got a good track record with getting people back into work, but they also need supervision.

“They deserve support and I want to focus on developing them as volunteers with training and education, but it all takes time.”

The centre is hosting a dinner on Christmas Day from between 10am and 1pm. Tickets are issued at the Storehouse on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 11.30am and 1.30pm.

Sponsored by Sainsbury’s in London Road, Southend, which also donates items for the food parcels, the event is free and up to 120 places are available.

Mr Matthews said: “They are wonderful, they give us so much. We owe them a big thank you.”

To find out more about the Southend Vineyard and the Storehouse call 01702 612900.