CARE homes in the district have been handed a major boost after receiving their share of 5,000 face masks.

The protective equipment has come courtesy of the Essex Freemasons which has launched a £30,000 campaign to ensure carers and nurses have access to face masks during the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of seven care homes in Braintree and Witham have benefited from the donation so far.

Paul Reeves, Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Essex Freemasons, said: “It is clear that there is a massive shortage of vital equipment and I am delighted that we have been able to respond immediately to support our hospitals, care homes and front line nursing teams.

“We contacted suppliers and they responded within seven days.

"Visors are now being distributed via our network of Freemason volunteers, many of whom already provide TLC Teddy Bears for traumatised children in A&E units.”

An estimated 260 care homes across the county are set to benefit from the Freemasons campaign.

Bosses say every effort has been made to ensure protective equipment reaches "the right people as quickly as possible".

But they say any care home or hospital which has not been contacted and is in urgent need of supplies should get in touch.

Email with the name of the unit and details of the person to contact there.