EMERGENCY food parcels are being handed out to elderly and vulnerable people as part of a winter campaign prompted by the onset of freezing weather conditions.

Charity workers in North Yorkshire are urging volunteers to befriend pensioners to make sure they stay safe and warm.

The Hambleton and Richmondshire winter weather task group is putting together 100 emergency food parcels with the help of Asda, to give people three days worth of food and warm drinks.

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They are also giving out 300 winter warmth packs with blankets, hats, gloves, thermos flasks and a torch. Help with emergency heating repairs, draught proofing and portable heaters if needed, is also on offer. 

Paul Fisher of Age UK, said: "We are trying to make sure that the vulnerable people are prepared if the weather really closes in. It isn’t too bad at the moment, but certainly what we have got is a package of help across Hambleton and Richmondshire.

“It is mainly elderly people but not exclusively, also families with young children who are struggling.

"We are asking people to be a good neighbour and befriend elderly and vulnerable people, it can make such a huge difference.

"We’ve been giving out 2,000 leaflets through police community support officers to let people know where and how they can get help.

“The aim is to help people help each other. Many people do already do this, but we need to make sure we reach people who are isolated."

The group, which includes district councils, Broadacres Housing and police and fire and rescue is asking every town and parish council across the area to help promote the campaign.

Lisa Wilson, lifestyles manager for Hambleton, said: "We’re also trying to set up volunteer groups of people who can be called on in bad weather during the winter but also at other times of emergency such as flooding to come to the aid of vulnerable people.”

The group has been given £40,000 through North Yorkshire County Council as part of the government scheme Warm Homes Healthy People to reduce winter deaths.

There is a referral system for support but information is available locally through Age UK: 01609-771624, Broadacres: 0845 2008646, Hambleton District Council: 0845 1211555 and Richmondshire District Council: 01748-829100.