Winter survival packs for city’s vulnerable

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Volunteers from organisations helping out with the Winter Assistant Packages, Vicky Jimenez and Lisa Blessington LMH, Cllr Richard McLinden and Cllr Frank Hort and Local Solutions © Melissa McFarlane Jmu Journalism

Volunteers from organisations helping out with the Winter Assistant Packages, Vicky Jimenez and Lisa Blessington LMH, Cllr Richard McLinden and Cllr Frank Hort and Local Solutions. Pic by Melissa McFarlane © JMU Journalism

As the cold winter season approaches hundreds of people from across Merseyside will struggle to survive the winter months.

Expensive heating bills will cause many to suffer freezing conditions and rising food prices may force some families to turn to food banks to eat.

Members from over 16 organisations were at Local Solutions in Kensington on Thursday to take part in packing laundry bags with winter essentials for Liverpool’s most vulnerable people.

This is the second year of the winter event which sees a partnership between Liverpool City Council and local businesses and community groups, as they join forces to help those in need.

Councillor Gerrard Woodhouse, who was elected Mayoral Leader for Older People four years ago, turned out to help with the packing of the parcels. He told JMU Journalism: “We as the city council have supported all our organisations and we will be out there delivering these packs this week delivering to the old and vulnerable people of the city.

He added: “We will be working with our partners, older people, vulnerable people and the volunteer sector seeing what support we can give to these poverty-stricken people. If these packs can help save and keep our people warm this winter, I know we’ve done a good job.”

This year, the aim was 750 packages in just over two hours. There were 39 items in each package, ranging from blankets to travel mugs to cup-a-soups, with over 40,000 items being distributed across the city as a whole.

Donna Kelly, Director of Housing at Liverpool Housing Trust, said: “The demand on our service has grown due to the impact of welfare reform, the bedroom tax and the recession. As landlords, we are picking up more vulnerabilities than we would have done a number of years ago.”

Organisations helping package the Winter Assistance packages at Local solutions Kensignton © Melissa McFarlane Jmu Journalism

Organisations helping package the Winter Assistance packages at Local solutions Kensignton. Pic by Melissa McFarlane © JMU Journalism

Last year nine organisations took part in putting together 500 packages to be distributed across the city. However, this year there has been an increased need for the winter assistant package service.

Councillor Frank Hont, Cabinet member for Social Inclusion, Fairness and Equalities said:Perhaps the most disturbing thing is the amount of families who are having to turn to food banks. Anyone who imagines it is simply people on benefits is sadly mistaken. There is now an increasing amount of families who have at least one member working who have had to turn to food banks.”

In the North West alone from April 2013 to March 2014, more than 130,000 people in crisis have been provided with a three days’ supply of emergency food.  In Liverpool, it is said 165 people attend food banks every day, with the number continuing to rise.

About Melissa McFarlane, JMU Journalism