ELECTRIC blankets, hats and gloves, food and snow grips have been boxed up and sent to the elderly and vulnerable in Bolton, as part of a £35,000 scheme to help keep them safe over winter.

Health practitioners are currently delivering the final few boxes to people, after getting help from district nurses, Bolton at Home, health visitors and warden controlled housing about who is the most needy.

The boxes, known as ‘a hug in a box’ include essential items to keep people warm and fed in case of bad weather and also have heating advice and other useful tips for keeping warm and safe.

So far, almost 1,000 have been delivered.

It is the second winter that the boxes have been handed out in Bolton.

In January, a £165,000 grant from the Department of Health funded the boxes, which were created by Bolton Council and NHS Bolton alongside the British Red Cross, Greater Manchester Probation Trust and Bolton CVS.

Katie Bretherton, health improvement practitioner, said the boxes were designed to try to cut the number of winter-related deaths in Bolton.

She added: “Last year they were funded by the Department of Health but this year it is from a grant from NHS Bolton.

“The boxes are very important and are for people who are isolated or are at risk in the winter and will help them take care of themselves. If it snows it will save them a trip to the shops where they may fall and injure themselves.”

Ms Bretherton and her colleague Sharon Tonge took boxes from their storage depot in Swan Lane, Great Lever, to Bolton Care and Repair, in Blackburn Road.

Ms Tonge said: “If it snows or gets really cold and there is no-one to help them, then they will have enough stuff to keep warm and get by for a day or two. It does reduce the excess winter deaths.

“This year the weather hasn’t been that bad but you don’t know if it will get worse and it means that people have them there if they need it.”