A hardworking postman is urging residents and MPs to be more understanding of the impact of Covid on deliveries.

Luke Elgar, 28, from Southend says there's been a backlash aimed at postal workers as the virus has seen reduced staff and also long delays.

The worker, who is based at the borough's Short Street depot, said: "We always expect Christmas to be very busy but with the lockdowns it's been pretty crazy.

It comes as it was revealed four areas of Essex are part of a postage "blacklist" with homeowners not receiving regular deliveries.

Mr Elgar said: "MPs have been having a go at us and so are some residents which is understandable but they need to take into account we've had difficulties.

"I do not have any issues with how we are being treated and the CWU union really fought to get us personal protective equipment and safety.

"I do not Royal Mail would not have sorted this without the pressure from our union. We are also sharing vans to try make it safer for us and we're trying to keep social distanced too - but it's not easy with 300 staff.

"I've been with Royal Mail for 10 years now and lots of people are working more than 10 hours so we can just catch up with the parcels.

"It was mostly MPs who were being negative but so many people on the street are so grateful and for many we're the only people that we see daily so it's important."

He said it's tiring and feels like there's no end in sight and he also said NHS staff are the real heroes.

The Royal Mail has been forced to apologise for a lack of deliveries after its workforce has been hit with Covid cases and self-isolating staff.

The service has now published a list of 28 areas in the UK which have been affected by the shortage of staff, which includes Basildon, Grays, South Ockendon, and Chelmsford.

A spokesman said: "“Across the UK, our people are working hard to deliver as comprehensive a service as possible to all our customers in challenging circumstances. Despite our best endeavours, it is possible that some areas of the country may experience a reduction in service levels due to higher volumes of mail during the lockdown, the ongoing impact of COVID-related staff absences and necessary social distancing measures at local mail centres and delivery offices.

"Right from the start of this crisis, we have played a key role keeping the country connected. Every single letter and parcel is important to us. Like most organisations, we have a number of employees who are self-isolating in line with government guidance. This has a direct impact on our staffing levels, especially in areas where there are higher levels of local outbreaks. We are working hard to deliver as normal a service as we can, drawing in extra resource and offering additional overtime where possible.

"We remain grateful to all our customers in these areas for their patience and understanding as our dedicated workforce work hard to deliver these exceptional volumes, whilst also adhering to necessary social distancing measures. We always endeavour to keep our customers updated on any changes to our services. We have a dedicated section on our website. Throughout the pandemic, every decision we make puts the health of our people and customers first.”