A LIFELINE is being offered to help vulnerable residents struggling to pay for heating their homes and cooking hot food.

For the fifth year running, Vale Royal Lions and Citizens Advice Cheshire West have teamed up to launch their Heating Bank campaign.

Poverty-stricken residents in Winsford and Northwich will be eligible to receive payments towards their energy bills.

Andy Benson, of Vale Royal Lions, said: "Vale Royal Lions' mission is to serve the community and over 40 years this has taken many forms.

"While organisations that benefit from this service – such as charities – are usually recognised by name, often when individuals are concerned they are generally unknown.

"Yet in many cases, we have found that it is these members of our community who are most in need.

"One such group is those who cannot afford the extra cost of energy needed in their homes during the winter months, both to provide heat and prepare food.

"We may be surprised at this in today’s society but, talk to Citizens Advice, and they know of many such people."

Money donated to the fuel bank will be ringfenced by the Lions, before Citizens Advice will send the money directly into the prepayment meter or utility account of those who need it most.

Last year, they were able to help Sarah who had been rehoused with her two-year-old daughter following domestic abuse. Electricity for the property had cost £115 over two weeks, which left her with only £2 for food and heating. Through the scheme, the Lions added £25 to her key meter account.

In total, the charity provided a lifeline to 32 people last year, including 24 families. The most common reason for using the Heating Bank was a delay in receiving benefits payments.

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Donations are welcome from senior citizens who receive the winter fuel allowance and can afford to donate some or even all of it, or from other individuals and businesses who can make a contribution.

All donations, no matter how big or small, will be much appreciated by the Lions, Citizens Advice and residents who will enjoy a warmer home for the winter than they would have done without it.

To donate, visit citizensadvicecw.org.uk/heating-bank or send a cheque made payable to Vale Royal Lions and with 'Heating Bank' written on the back, to Vale Royal Lions, 10 Blandford Drive, Northwich, CW9 8UD.