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When you visit a foodbank you might also need help with other concerns and challenges.

If you need help, advice or practical support with a particular issue, you can use these services and groups for free.

If you’re worried about money, you can get advice and support to make sure you are getting all the payments you are entitled to, finding extra financial help, and reducing your bills or getting help with debt.

Information about getting help from Southend Foodbank, including how to get and use a foodbank voucher, is here:

One Southend has information, maps and contact details of other help available from foodbanks, food clubs and free pantries, and warm spaces across Southend


The Southend Alliance publish a list of where you can get free or low cost food across Southend, including foodbanks, pantries, drop in meals and community fridges. View or download the leaflet.

Southend Council has printed a cost of living booklet for winter 2023-4. This includes information about financial help available for Southend residents, lists a range of places where you can get free and cheaper food, help available with energy, housing and health services locally. However, please note that information about Southend Foodbank on page 11 is incorrect: Hawkwell is based in the Faith, Hope and Charity shop and the Westcliff session on Wednesdays is open 1pm-3pm. For all information about our sessions, please see our How to Get Help pages.

Low income and benefits

Citizens Advice can advise you about financial support and other help available. They offer information about money, benefits, debt, housing, employment and other consumer and crisis issues you might be facing. You can also ask for a foodbank voucher. Contact your local branch for an appointment:
Southend: 0344 4770808 or 01702 969696
South Essex including Rochford and Castle Point: 0808 278 7877

If you need help making a Universal Credit claim, the Help to Claim service from Citizens Advice can help you with working out your eligibility, completing your application, preparing for your first appointment as well as helping you check your first payment is correct. Call 0800 144 8 444 (Monday-Friday, 8am – 6pm) or use the online chat on Help to Claim.

Turn2us is a national charity that provides financial support to help people get back on track. The Turn2us website includes an independent benefits calculator you can use to check what you are entitled to and information about other financial help you could apply for.

Healthy Start provides extra help for families with children under 4, or if you are pregnant. You can get vouchers to buy fresh milk, fruit and vegetables. Visit the Health Start website to see if you qualify and how to apply.

NHS Help with Health Costs can help if you are eligible for free or discounted for prescriptions, dental, sight, travel and other health costs. Visit NHS BSA to see if you qualify for exemptions or support from the NHS Low Income Scheme.


Your local council has information about local financial support, hardship payments and other help available. This can include getting help with living costs, council tax, and “Help for Households” payments.



Castle Point


If you have retired and need advice about your pension, Money Helper can give free and impartial pensions guidance as well as information about benefits in later life, your State Pension, and any extra money you might be entitled to that could help with your heating in winter, free transport passes and other benefits. Applying for Pension Credit, even if it doesn’t pay you very much, can help you qualify for a range of other support including help with housing and health costs, and the Cold Weather Payment.

If you have applied for the right benefits but they have stopped, not been paid or you have been sanctioned, you can get advice from Citizens Advice about what you can do next. Advice Now have a survival guide to being sanctioned, with information about what to expect and resources for each step of the process.


Utility bills, fuel and energy

If you are having problems paying your utility bills, you can contact these agencies to help you pay or reduce the amount you are paying:

LEAP is a free service that helps people reduce their energy bills 0800 0607567

Essex & Suffolk Water can offer options for reducing or changing the way you pay your water bills 0345 7820111

British Gas Energy Trust can offer help even if you are not a British Gas customer.
For self-guided online support, the Bounce Back checklist can connect you with help:
For grants to help with fuel bill debt:

Disability Energy Support provides email or telephone support for households where someone is disabled, offering help with energy and water 0808 801 0828

If you’re in debt to your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help pay it off. Citizens Advice have further resources for help with energy bills, including what to do if you can’t pay your bills, and links to grants and schemes of support available from major energy suppliers to help pay off fuel bill debts

Money Saving Expert tracks which energy suppliers offer grants to help pay bills and who can help you apply.

Turn2Us Grant Search can look for additional help available, depending on your circumstances and disability, as well as your energy and water provider.

If you are on a low fixed income, including Universal Credit and Pension Credit as well as other benefits, you could get cheaper broadband and phone bills, called social tarrifs.

The Help to Heat scheme connects people with financial help for making your home warmer and cheaper to heat. The Energy Company Obligation is a scheme that provides grants to people living in social housing or if you live in private housing and get particular benefits, to help make your home more energy efficient or better insulated. The help available varies between areas, so check with each scheme to see what you could be eligible for.


Debt and money problems

If you are having problems with debt, you can contact these agencies for debt advice, help with managing your debt and support to become debt-free:

CAP (Christians Against Poverty) Southend branch offers debt advice, support to find your route out of debt, a debt coach, help to access support you’re entitled to, budgeting and life skills. 0800 328 0006

Step Change offer free, independent advice on money, debt stress and how to handle debt, with help online and by phone. They can support you to access breathing space, a personal action plan and budgeting help.

Kings Money Advice Centre offer help managing debt, face-to-face individual support and budgeting, assistance putting together a repayment plan and contacting creditors on your behalf. 01702 522197

National Debt Line Webchat and phoneline for advice on debt, arrears, bills, debt solutions, bailiffs and help with court action on debt. Online budgeting tool. Website also has fact sheets and example letters.   0808 808 4000


Mental health

Whatever you’re going through, you can call the Samaritans any time, from any phone for free 116 123.

These agencies offer help with mental health support:

South East and Central Essex Mind Services mental health advice, guidance and counselling services. Links to 24 hour and specialist helplines, self-referral counselling services and online peer support group. 01702 601123

Therapy for You self-referral to free online and individual support and a range of therapies 01268 739128
The website also provides information for crisis support

Every Mind Matters advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing, free, provided by the NHS.

Trust Links Growing Together a local independent charity for mental health and wellbeing, offering therapeutic activities, employment training, youth support, men’s shed, family groups and more to people living with mental health conditions and for unpaid carers. Hubs across south east Essex 01702 213134

There is help available for people experiencing addiction:

Southend Young People’s Drug & Alcohol Team provide advice, information and treatment to young people up to the age of 21 who are looking to address their drug and/or alcohol use. YPDAT provide tailored support to young people, including 1-1 keyworking. 01702 534786

STARS (Southend Treatment and Recovery Service) provide advice, information and treatment to anyone over the age of 18 who is looking to address their drug and/or alcohol use. STARS provide a range of services including structured support groups, 1-1 keyworking, women-only sessions etc. and can also facilitate access to residential treatment placements where appropriate. 01702 431889

Forward’s family service supports people who are struggling with the impact of a friend or family member’s substance misuse.

For help with gambling, the National Gambling Treatment Service offers online chat, a freephone helpline 0808 8020 133 and self-referral to a free treatment service.


Domestic abuse

If you are worried about someone finding out you are looking at domestic abuse information, Women’s Aid have a safety guide
Please visit this site first to find out more about increasing your safety when looking for help online.

Essex Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0330 3337444 Helpline available from 8am – 8pm weekdays and 8am – 1pm weekends. You can self-refer to services through the website.
These webpages include a quick exit button if you are worried about someone seeing you looking at this information. To see this information in other languages, use the Translate button at the top of the page.

Women’s Aid provide a range of services, including an online instant messaging service and information for how to get help with domestic abuse. The website also links to services for men, young people, people with disabilities and LGBT+ support.

The Salvation Army supports victims of human trafficking and modern slavery, with a 24hr referral helpline 0300 3038151


Victims of crime

If you have experienced a crime and need support, you can speak with Victim Support, who are independent and confidential. Call 0808 1689 111 or use their online services. It doesn’t matter how recently it happened or whether it was reported. They also offer specialised support for younger people.

To give information about a crime, CrimeStoppers has an anonymous service. Call 0800 555 111 or use their online form. In an emergency, always call 999.


Housing and renting

Shelter give housing advice online and over the phone about your rights and ways to get help with housing, private renting, deposits and repairs, rent increases, council housing and homelessness. Advice on getting help with housing costs as part of your benefits, and financial help available for housing costs.

Citizens Advice provide guidance about housing, mortgages, renting, evictions, arrears and possession orders, as well as offer help through the local Citizens Advice service. The website has additional advice for people leaving the armed forces, students and those from overseas.

Find out if you could get a Council Tax reduction. You can apply if you own your home, rent, are unemployed or working.

Sanctuary supporting living offer one to one and peer support in the community and help to maintain tenancies. Floating support means you don’t have to have a Sanctuary tenancy to use this service.


For information about rent payments and other residential issues, contact your housing provider or look at the help offered by local housing services.

  • Tenants with Estuary Housing might be able to get extra financial support with your housing costs through the One Estuary Fund.
  • Tenants with Richmond Fellowship can access additional help through their support worker.
  • Tenants with South Essex Homes can get help through the Support Services Team, including getting help with arrears, other grants and support available, and getting furniture.


If you are homeless or could become homeless soon, please contact the council’s housing service:

Streetlink offers a national service to connect people living on the streets with local support and outreach services.



If you need practical help or sympathetic advice after someone has died, the Bereavement Information Centre offers a free and impartial information service, online and by phone.

Citizens Advice has information about financial support you could be entitled to, including the Bereavement Support Payment and the Funeral Expenses Payment.

If you are struggling with debt after a death or if you shared your bills with someone who has died, National Debt Line has advice about the steps you need to take and where you can get help.


Support for carers

Southend Carers is a local charity that provides a wide range of inclusive carers support services.  They are available to support adult carers, young carers, parents of young carers and young adult carers. Their services can: advise and guide; help to reduce isolation; help maintain and manage your caring role; address social disadvantage and financial vulnerability; and support your capacity to maintain and improve your mental health and physical well-being. You can call Southend Carers 01702 393933 or pop-in 10am-3pm, Monday-Friday, SAVS Centre, 29/31 Alexandra Street, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 1BW.


Support for parents

Find out if you can get help with free school meals, costs of uniform, transport or school activities.

A Better Start Southend Local organisations who provide help, advice and activities for families with children in Southend. Includes Parenting Solo, a support group for single parent families and Your Family a support network offering activities, information, drop-in sessions and practical support. Check website for eligibility.

SEND the Right Message is a ‘by parents and for parents’ charity whose aim is to support families with children and young people who have special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) in Southend, Castle Point & Rochford.  STRM offers online support, face-to-face support sessions, disability benefits appointments, children’s activities, training and directly via their new community office. STRM can help you to navigate your child’s SEND journey, pre and post diagnosis, while supporting you through the maze of information. No diagnosis needed to access their services. Contact via [email protected] or 07359 068827.

Family Action Practical, emotional and financial support to help build stronger families. Check the website for your nearest family centre and current activities.


Support for pet owners

PDSA (The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) can provide free or low cost vet services for pets. Check your eligibility and register with your nearest PDSA pet hospital to get help.

The RSPCA a limited welfare assistance fund for owned animals most in need within the South Essex and Southend branch district, (postcodes SS0 to SS12), who are in financial difficulties or not eligible for help from other local animal veterinary charities. Contact the branch directly for details and eligibility.


Local services, activities and community connections

South Essex Community Hub provides advice, support and activities. Mental and physical wellbeing, digital skills, youth hub, language support. Check website for session times and locations.  01702 611199

Advice Local connects you with local services and information specific to where you live, with details of free, independent advice organisations who can help you get the information and support that you’re looking for.

ONE Southend lists community groups and services that can help you locally. Guides for using technology and getting connected. Wellbeing and activities.

SAVS connects with other local services and community activities through their directory, as well as activities run by local groups.

Livewell Southend provides a directory of local services and a calendar of activities. To see this information in other languages, use the Language menu at the top of the page.

Information for people fleeing the war in Ukraine

Welcome To the UK, a charity based in Southend, offers a kind welcome, information, practical support, language help and English classes, family sessions and community activities. They can also help getting a foodbank voucher. Their website has a Ukrainian language section and they are active on

ONE Southend has information about local services in Ukrainian.

Local councils have information for people from Ukraine:

Settled UK provides a Ukraine Advice Service, also in Ukrainian: Інформація українською тут.

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