New scheme to help Southend families who are struggling

Southend families facing the tough decision to either spend money on feeding their children or heating their homes could receive a cash boost from the council.

With many struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, the “eat or heat” scheme will see £300 distributed to any families, carers, or residents that have fallen on difficult times.

The scheme is run by the Department for Work and Pensions, Southend Council, Southend Carers and Citizen advice.

Southend Citizens Advice CEO, Riz Awan, said: “We’ve had over 250 applications over a two-week span.

“We are trying to help 400 families in Southend, we will go back knocking on the council’s door for more money to help for anyone who needs help during this period.”

So far, feedback for the project has been “very positive”, especially with families trying to home school – which has impacted food and fuel bills.

Mrs Awan added: “We are making sure people have everything they need during the winter months and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These projects have been put together to target the carer community. We need small projects like this in our community – our aim is to support families during these times in Southend.” Citizens Advice is often the first point of call for anyone with a problem and the Southend office help thousands of local people every year.

Cllr Trevor Harp, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said: “Using the Government’s COVID winter grant funding, we are able to stop carers and their families having to choose between food and fuel.

“Southend Carers and Citizens Advice Southend are best placed to make sure the money reaches those who need it most, and so we decided early on that it would be best to provide the funding to them to distribute the £300 grants to the community.

“There is an application process to go through but this is a good example of how partnership working is making sure people get the help and support they need during these difficult times.

“If you are a carer and do need help and support, please get in touch, we had an excellent response to this, and funding has been allocated already.”

Angela Sharda

Local Democracy Reporter