A GROUP set up to help deliver food and medication to the elderly and vulnerable is remaining open despite the Covid-19 crisis.

Witham Community Hub chairman Tina Townsend launched the Pay It Forward group on Facebook to help the public get food.

The Government announced strict new rules this week in a bid to curb the crisis but Essex County Council has given permission for the group to remain operational.

Just over a week after launching, the group has more than 1,800 members and 15 volunteers distributing food.

Tina said: “I did not expect it to go as quickly as it would.

“The purpose of the group is to help the public get food.

“The food is donated to us and then we immediately bag everything up and run it out to the elderly and vulnerable.

“On Monday morning alone we ran out 30 bags and most of the food came in that morning.

“We are also doing prescriptions, so if anyone gets their prescriptions for free, we will go and pick it up.”

She added: “We’ve laughed a lot and cried too with the overwhelming support and lovely things people have said.

“My team are superheroes who don’t wear capes.

“We still need donations, so if you can help please do – we will do this for as long as we can.”

A cab company is also offering free transport for the elderly to get to supermarkets and pharmacies.

Happicabs, which operates in Witham, is offering anyone aged over 70 free click-and-collect delivery service to collect from selected supermarkets and pharmacies.

They also operate in Maldon, Chelmsford and South Woodham Ferrers.

Business manager Waqas Hussain, said: “We came up with the idea after the madness in shops and supply shortages leaving the most vulnerable unable to get out and get their shopping.

“As a taxi business in the area we’d like to take away their worries by delivering shopping and medications to them, free of charge.

“Then they do not have to leave their home during the coronavirus outbreak.”

Happicabs are offering the service to anyone living in CM8, CM9, CM1, CM2 and CM3 postcodes.

Anyone over 70 can receive the service for free.

Lounge India restaurant in Braintree, had offered free meals for NHS staff and anyone over the age of 60 before this week’s lockdown.

Owner Shubail Ahmed gave away more 70 meals on the first day.

In a post on Facebook he said: “I think we should all pray together – we can get through this.”

Staff at Starbucks in Cineworld, Braintree donated left-over food after they were forced to close

Staff were told not to go to work but volunteered to go in the next day to take left-over food to the First Stop centre in Braintree.