A CHARITY for the Armed Forces is supporting more and more veterans who are struggling to pay their bills.

Help for Heroes is giving grants to Essex veterans to help them pay their energy and food bills due to the cost-of-living crisis making it unaffordable for them.

The charity has expanded the funds available to meet the requests for help that they are anticipating will increase.

So far this year, they have helped almost 100 individuals who would have struggled without the support.

In the last financial year from 2020 to 2021 the charity awarded £414,000 in grants to veterans and families in need nationally.

The funding usually goes towards housing adaptations, adaptive equipment and welfare support.

However, throughout the Covid-19 lockdowns the charity met requests for emergency food baskets for veterans who were shielding, in poverty or unable to work.

The charity now predicts that a much larger percentage of the overall figure this year will cover grants for food and energy.

The Charity’s Head of Grants for Essex, Claire Barnes, said: “Without doubt, what we are currently seeing is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Many of our veterans are feeling particularly vulnerable. The impact of the changes in the economic climate means they are facing cuts to their benefits, as well as needing more energy to meet their basic needs.

“Some are dependent on specialist equipment – such as ventilators, oxygen concentrators, hoists, or wheelchairs, all of which are powered by electricity.

“Others live with health conditions, such as spinal injury or amputations, that require careful temperature regulation, because they cannot maintain their body temperature themselves.

“We are also witnessing an increase in anxiety from veterans and families about how they will make ends meet, in a way that doesn’t compromise their basic quality of life.

“Those with pre-existing mental health issues may well face more anxiety in just trying to live day to day.

“Our funds are not endless, but we must work with our veterans and families to do all we can to reduce the anxieties they are experiencing.”

Veterans or close relatives in urgent need of help with food and energy bills can get support from Help for Heroes at helpforheroes.org.uk/get-help.