BUSINESSES and residents are being encouraged to pay into a pot to help struggling households in Chester and Ellesmere Port pay their heating bill this winter.

After running similar successful schemes in Northwich and Winsford for the last four years, Citizens Advice Cheshire West are launching their Heating Bank campaign.

The campaign will offer a helping hand in the cold winter months, by providing payments towards the energy bills of those who struggle to afford it in the area.

Liz Dickinson, of Citizens Advice Cheshire West, said: "Every winter several members of our community struggle to pay for enough gas and electricity to heat their homes and cook hot food. We are aiming to make a difference in Chester and Ellesmere Port for those people who are struggling to keep warm and we’re asking for your support.

"We are appealing to individuals, companies, and funders to contribute to our Heating bank. Every pound you donate will go to a household who needs help.”

Money donated to the fuel bank will be ring-fenced before Citizens Advice send it directly into the prepayment meter or utility account of those who need it most.

Last year, they were able to help Sarah, who had been rehoused with her two-year-old daughter following domestic abuse. Electricity for the property had cost £115 over 2 weeks, which left her with only £2 for food and heating. Through the scheme, they added £25 to her key meter account.

In total, they provided a lifeline to 32 people last year, including 24 families. The most common reason for using the Heating Bank was a delay in receiving benefits payments.

Donations are welcome from residents who receive the winter fuel allowance, who can afford to donate some or even all of it, or from other individuals and businesses who can make a contribution.

All donations, no matter how big or small, will be much appreciated by Citizens Advice and residents who will enjoy a warmer home for the winter than they would have done without it.

To make a donation visit