WINTER warming schemes designed to help the vulnerable over the colder months have received £100,000 each in funding from the NHS.

Colchester's Community360 and Community Voluntary Services Tendring have received an early Christmas present courtesy of the Suffolk and North East Essex health service to continue their programmes, which help the elderly, ill and young families out over the harsh winter months.

Community 360 has brought together 20 organisations and will be issuing winter packs to community members, managing a fund for volunteer groups to meet increased winter demand for their services, organise roadshow events and improve access for people discharged from Colchester Hospital.

Chief executive officer Tracy Rudling said: "We are contributing to improving the experience in the discharge lounge at Colchester Hospital with additional volunteer support and providing a more relaxing and enjoyable experience while people wait to go home.

"We are also recruiting new volunteers to assist patients, providing social interaction, activities such as games, puzzles and nail painting. There is a team working on brightening up the area with a new mural.

“The discharge lounge will further benefit from Community 360’s Slipper Exchange, providing new slippers to prevent slips, trips and falls and from winter warmth packs as part of the Winter Resilience Project.

“Patients discharged from Colchester Hospital can benefit from Community Transport and the Home from Hospital Befriending Scheme where volunteers support a patient for up to six weeks once they have returned home.”

She added: "None of this would be possible without a collaborative approach from many partners and volunteers who we truly thank for their continued enthusiasm and support.”

In Tendring, the May The Warmth Be With You project is providing warm clothing, hot water bottles and electric heaters to those at risk this festive period.

Food also plays a big part of the scheme, and lunch packs are being provided to schools in the area with the help of businesses like East of England Co-op and Tesco.

Sharon Alexander, chief officer of Community Voluntary Services Tendring, said: "This is a real example of can do in the community and it’s a scheme we know our local population really value.

"As well as providing essential products to stay warm, our volunteers will be conducting door-drops with winter packs in some of the most deprived areas and looking at any support residents may need. This will be invaluable in particularly bad weather."

Those who need assistance can call 01255 425692 across Tendring or 01206 505250 in Colchester.