CHARITY bosses say the number of families coming to them in desperate need of support is on the rise due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Witham Community Hub says its volunteers have been handing out more and more free food to households who's income has been all but wiped out by Covid-19.

It comes as the charity, which is providing a large support network in the town, announced it has now received more than 3,500 requests for help since the start of the pandemic.

Trust chairman Tina Townsend said: "I think it would be fair to say the number of people we have had coming to us is increasing. It's fairly steady but continues to rise.

"We seem to have had more and more families coming to us asking for help because they're on zero hour contracts or have been furloughed and are struggling to pay the bills, let alone do a week's shopping.

"It is worrying to see because the cases are becoming more about financial hardship.

"We're still helping people who are isolating and being shielded like before but I would say more families are coming to us for help now."

The hub volunteers are continuing to work around the clock to keep up with demand during the lockdown.

Tina was one of four volunteers who worked a 12-hour shift on bank holiday Friday and helped dish out 54 free bags of food to the vulnerable or struggling families.

She was joined by husband Martin, Carolyn Hobbs and Stacey Williams on the day and says the small team felt humbled to be working on the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

She said: "We were getting lots of waves and cheers from people who were having street parties.

"It was lovely to see people out enjoying themselves despite everything going on at the moment.

"In many ways it was a privilege to be working because everyone was celebrating and remembering the people who had given up so much during the war to help the country.

"It feels like we are in our own mini war at the moment with coronavirus so it was nice to think we were doing our bit to help during our own hour of need."

Tina has also paid tribute to the 20 volunteers helping the community hub during the pandemic.

The trust continues to provide delivery services, free food and support to vulnerable people in Witham on a daily basis and is expecting to keep on working through the summer.

Tina added: "Our volunteers are amazing. We wouldn't have been able to do this project without them and support as many people we do. They are giving up their own time and money to help out during this crisis and their help means everything.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be helping so many people. When I set up the project I thought we would only need to help a few people. So the fact we have helped with 3,500 enquiries just goes to show how fantastic they have all been."