A campaign helping those most at need this winter has been "incredibly busy" as demand surges.

Since launching at the beginning of November, the Thin Ice project – a winter community response in Lowestoft and the surrounding areas – has distributed more than 750 meals and almost 1,000 hot drinks.

Having been extended to help those who are vulnerable and in need by offering a free meal and hot drink, Sam's Cafe in Lowestoft has seen demands surge over the past two months.

Located on Bevan Street East in Lowestoft, the cafe 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 has been enhanced to "help those most at need this winter."

The charity running the Thin Ice campaign has seen handfuls of people queueing at the door before the coffee house opens on particularly cold mornings as they've been given a hot drink, meal and a place to warm up.

The latest figures show that 758 meals and 967 hot drinks have been handed out since the project started on November 1.

Antony Parke, head of commercial services at Access Community Trust, said: "Its been incredibly busy.

"A lot of people are in need of genuine support and I think it really shows that it's not just the pandemic - a number of other issues are affecting people, such as rising fuel costs and heating with no money for food.

"Its helping families on the breadline and the message is we are here for anyone that needs help.

"We can signpost to other agencies and we are very much here and waiting to support you."

The service is operating from now until February 28, 2022 between Monday to Saturday.

Mr Parke added: "We are very much the start of the journey here and I think the thing we're driven by as a regional charity is that if someone out there needs help, we can help them before they get to a crisis point.

"Some people are not able to put their heating on, so they spend some time here and we can help support and put them in touch with other agencies.

The vast majority are already well supported, and there is lots of support organisations in Lowestoft that we have a really great partnership with.

"On the colder early mornings we have seen queues of people before we open."

Get involved

The community is able to help support this initiative by providing a small donation to the charity’s text to donate service or purchasing a ‘pay it forward’ meal directly from its community café.

You can text THINICE to 70470 or pop into Sams and buy someone a meal.

You can also pre-buy a vouchered meal for someone who may need it by leaving a tag on the gift tree at the cafe.

Mr Parke said: "We are also running a 'giftmas tree' so people coming in can pay it forward to others and gift people a meal or hot drink."