A WALLINGFORD mum has begun a community project to hand out essentials to people in need.

Vicky Mcquillan says she started 'Help is on its way' to support vulnerable people, particularly the homeless and the town's mayor has hailed the project amid concerns about local poverty.

The 36-year-old founder, who used to be a night nurse, says she aims to help people who find themselves in difficult situation – like those recently made unemployed – in the Wallingford area.

She started the project two weeks ago, but already has more than 200 members on the group's Facebook page to help provide 'bundles' of clothes, toiletries, toys and other items.

Miss Mcquillan explained: "There’s many reasons people struggle. With the help of good people we can make a difference.

"I collect donations, get requests and sort out bundles - wash, iron and hand them out. I've had so many kind people helping me and such beautiful messages back. I also collected huge bundles of blankets, clothes and toiletries last week for the O’Hanlon house homeless shelter in Oxford. With this horrible cold weather I decided to help with my group."


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Alongside members and her son Toby, one, she dropped off a package last Saturday and said she was saddened to see the number of homeless people there - but more determined to help out.

Mayor Lee Upcraft said: "People are often surprised at just how much poverty there is in Wallingford. So I think anything that helps out with that is appreciated and welcome."

Food banks across southern Oxfordshire say they have seen a significant rise in demand in the past year, with Wallingford's saying it saw a 25 per cent rise. The town also recently opened a community fridge.

Members have hailed the new project as a 'fantastic' 'life saver'.

Lesley Hawksworth said: "Because of the changes in benefits lots of people are struggling, so groups like this are fantastic along with food banks. It could happen to anyone, so I love that there is still compassion out there - it restores my faith."

Fellow member Carol Faruku, added: "In the winter having warm clothes and blankets can really be a life saver (and) toiletries can help a person's self worth."

Another, Hayley McFerran, said: "I think this is a fantastic idea and just shows that someone with a kind heart can help people who feel like they have no one who cares. A small thing like a blanket or some clothes in this weather can make so much difference."

Miss Mcquillan's friend Lisa Dumper explained: "She has been brilliant at picking up donations from people all over the local area. I also went to the homeless shelter with her on the weekend and it hit home massively how much people are struggling.

"I counted about 15 bin bags of things to help them. I have also been in Vicky's home and seen her work so hard on washing and ironing goods and she managed to send a bit of to family’s too... I think she is making a massive difference to people's lives and she is amazing doing it all around her busy life."