A CHARITY says it is with “huge regret” it will stop a home help service for older people across Essex.

Dozens of people across the county are assisted by Age UK Essex’s popular face-to-face service.

It sees older people get help with tasks such as vacuuming, cleaning, changing beds, food preparation or simply having a chat.

The service was suspended in April amid the coronavirus pandemic but now bosses have announced it will not return.

Diane Nicola, chief executive of the charity, said: “After having suspended the service in April, it is with the deepest regret we are announcing the closure of our face-to-face Home Help service.

“Our board has taken the difficult decision that it cannot guarantee to fulfil our duty of care to both staff and clients by continuing this service given the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We will continue to care for our clients by offering new ways of support without the need for entering their homes, including providing free emergency shopping deliveries and regular well-being calls.

“We will continue to deliver our other services including free information and advice and befriending during this unprecedented time.

“It is important to us that our clients receive emotional and practical support in a safe way and that our clients and staff are not placed at risk in delivering a service.

“We will endeavour to ensure that the vulnerable people with whom we work, should know to whom they can turn, during this time of extended isolation to receive support.”

The charity said consideration may be given to restarting the paid for service at “some point in the future” but gave no detail on when this might be.

It added it would be consulting with its 39 home help employees.

A statement said: “We will, unfortunately, no longer be able to offer work to our Home Helps who work in the community. We would like to thank all of our Home Help staff for the amazing work they have done supporting older people.”

If you are elderly and need help or advice call 01245 346106.