THE founder of a volunteer-run group which has delivered 5,000 hot meals to those in need during the Covid-19 pandemic says the elderly and vulnerable will still need help once the virus is defeated.

North Essex Support Team has been helping to feed those who have been struggling and shielding during the pandemic as part of the Harwich Helps initiative.

The scheme started after a request to help an elderly man who was so scared to go out in March he was living off of cereal.

Now the volunteer-run group - which has been providing those in need with two hot meals a week - is one of a number of charities to be handed a share if £30,000 by Tendring Council to carry on their good work.

Les Nicoll, who is founder of the charity, said: “We have been pleased to provide hot meals for our town’s vulnerable and elderly.

“We began offering them at the start of the pandemic and have now given out more than 5,000 meals.

“But when this pandemic is all over, we will still have vulnerable and elderly people in our community who still need help. The good thing is that we now know who they are and they know us.

“The grant will enable us to carry on helping people - alongside the donations from the wonderful people of this town - into 2021.

“We have a responsibility to protect the vulnerable in our community and that must continue once the pandemic is over.”

The £4,000 for Harwich Helps will also be split with Harwich’s Salvation Army, which has been supporting struggling families throughout the pandemic with food parcels and cash for electricity and gas.

Four other community groups in the Tendring district will also be supported with grants while money has also been set aside for food shopping vouchers, which can be redeemed by struggling families.

Tendring Eldercare has been handed £6,000, while £4,000 will go to Jaywick Resource Centre and £5,000 for Community Voluntary Services Tendring.

A sum of £3,000 will be split between a number of foodbanks and a total of £8,390 will be handed out in food shopping vouchers.

The cash is being handed out by Tendring Council after it received £30,389 from the Government’s emergency assistance grant for food and essential supplies fund.

Lynda McWilliams, cabinet member for partnerships, thanked the community groups for their work.

“During lockdown our Tendring Shield helpline called on these groups, and others, to put together emergency food supplies while residents were waiting for government food parcels, or if they could not access online shopping,” she said.

“In order to support these groups and maintain our strong partnership with them, it is right this funding goes to them to cover costs already incurred or future support.

“Both our Shield helpline and many community groups are still working hard to support residents in Tendring, including the 8,500 clinically extremely vulnerable people who are being told to stay at home at the moment.”