A dedicated helpline has been set up to help vulnerable people in the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Southend Council has now launched the Southend Coronavirus Action helpline.

Residents who are vulnerable and do not have friends and family or local support in place at this time should call 01702 212497.

The helpline will be open seven days a weeks, from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 2pm on Saturday and Sunday.

The special Southend Coronavirus Action team was set up last week to provide the infrastructure to deliver supplies to people and ensure that no-one slips through the net.

It has been recruiting volunteers through a social media campaign, with over 400 people and businesses signed up already to help out.

This Southend effort supports the national work which starts tomorrow (Friday 27 March 2020) to ensure ensure that people with the most serious health conditions are shielded from social contact for 12 weeks during the peak of the epidemic.

Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, says: “I am very thankful to all our partners, staff and volunteers who will deliver this on the on the ground through Southend Coronavirus Action, and ensure that people without support will be looked out for and looked after.”

“We have been overwhelmed by the response we have had from the community, our partners and staff who are being redeployed into supporting this.

“SCA is a friendly team on hand to answer your questions, or help you get the support you need, whether it's a few essentials from the shop, or someone who cares that can call you regularly for a chat, to make sure you're alright.

“You are not alone and if you do need us, we are here for you.”

Anyone who can help can volunteers online by completing a short form at www.southend.gov.uk/CoronavirusVolunteer

There is also a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SouthendCoronavirusAction

Southend Coronavirus Action, (SCA) is Southend Council, Southend Association of Voluntary Services (SAVS), South Essex Community Hubs (SECH) -  and a host of wonderful volunteers from across the borough, who have signed up to support people in the community with their needs at this time.