A vital service helping those most at need this winter has been extended as demand surges.

The Thin Ice campaign – a winter community response in Lowestoft and the surrounding areas – has been extended for another month as it is set to run until March 31.

After launching on November 1, the Thin Ice project was due to operate until February 28.

But the service - which has distributed thousands of meals and drinks - has now been extended courtesy of "generous donations" from the community, regional coffee business Paddy and Scott's and Suffolk Community Foundation.

As it helps those who are vulnerable and in need by offering a free meal and hot drink, the project has been run at Sam's Café in Lowestoft between Monday's and Friday's.

Lowestoft Journal: Staff at Sam's cafe in Lowestoft.Staff at Sam's cafe in Lowestoft. (Image: Mick Howes)

Located on Bevan Street East in Lowestoft, the café is run by Access Community Trust who work to prevent people from becoming socially excluded across Suffolk and Norfolk.

With previous Thin Ice campaigns having seen Access Community Trust, Lowestoft Rising, the council and foodbank successfully supporting local homeless people, the service was enhanced this to "help those most at need this winter."

Earlier this year, the charity running the Thin Ice campaign had seen handfuls of people queueing at the door before the coffee house opened.

Lowestoft Journal: A lunchtime meal offered at Sam's Cafe.A lunchtime meal offered at Sam's Cafe. (Image: Access Community Trust)

The latest figures show that the café has distributed more than 1,500 free meals and 1,900 hot drinks since November 1.

Antony Parke, head of commercial services at Access Community Trust, said: “Thanks to Paddy and Scott's and Suffolk Community Foundation we can now continue to offer this crucial provision until March 31.

Lowestoft Journal: Antony Parke at Sam's cafe in Lowestoft.Antony Parke at Sam's cafe in Lowestoft. (Image: Mick Howes)

"Sadly, daily support numbers continue to increase as the cost of living squeeze shows no sign of plateauing any time soon.”

As the charity expects to provide many more additional meals and hot drinks in the coming weeks, an Access Community Trust spokesman added: "Demand for the service continues to rise as many vulnerable individuals and families grapple with the unprecedented cost of living surges due to current world events.

Lowestoft Journal: The Thin Ice project in Lowestoft.The Thin Ice project in Lowestoft. (Image: Mick Howes)

"The community café hopes that other individuals and businesses will be inspired to follow suit – so this vital lifeline can continue throughout the Spring to support those struggling in our local community."

You can text THINICE to 70470 or pop into Sam's and buy someone a meal.