FAMILIES who are being worst hit by the cost-of-living crisis have been given a welcome helping hand by former Albion player Charlie Oatway.

The former Seagull works for the Russell Martin Foundation, which has teamed up with the Brighton Lighthouse Trust to raise over £7,000 to buy essential goods, food and clothing for families who are part of the charity’s Extra Time project.

The initiative helps young people between the ages of 11 and 15 struggling with mainstream education and living with a variety of mental health conditions get back into school.

Charlie, who made over 200 appearances for Albion between 1999 to 2007 before going on to be part of the club’s coaching team, works as a family liaison officer for the charity and helped coordinate donations, working closely with around 30 families in Brighton and West Sussex to identify their specific needs.

The donations, which included clothes, fridges, furniture, as well as food and energy vouchers, have provided vital support to help the families cope and manage at a difficult time.

Charlie said: “There are so many families out there at the moment who are struggling to afford even the essentials such as heating and food, so to be able to provide this support at such a critical time is vital.

“With the cost of living continuing to soar, it’s really important that we continue to support these families and others in the same position.

“We’d like to say huge thanks to all the organisations and individuals who have donated money so far.”

The Extra Time scheme also provides services and mentoring to the families of young people, many of whom are struggling to cope with the rise in the cost of energy and food and the wider cost-of-living crisis.

An estimated 12 per cent of households in Brighton and Hove live in fuel poverty and over 6,000 residents use local emergency food services.