Anger about meals-on-wheels service changes

Jamie Marks from Chichester receives his meal on wheels from a volunteer
Jamie Marks from Chichester receives his meal on wheels from a volunteer

DRASTIC changes planned to the meals-on-wheels service continue to cause anger and dismay among both volunteers and those who use the service.

No longer required to deliver meals, volunteers claim they will be ‘care workers’ instead and some have warned they will not carry on.

A Sidlesham café owner said volunteers in the Selsey area were so disillusioned they planned to leave and he was hoping to launch his own service using them to deliver his home-cooked meals.

Danny Kelly and his wife Julie run Julie’s Kitchen Diner at Sidlesham. They have already been delivering meals in the Selsey area for two years. In the past, elderly people had remained loyal to the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) and their volunteers. But he claimed users had not been consulted on the changes to the service.

“They are showing their discontent by wanting to leave and join our delivery system.”

As a result he is launching his Meals ‘n’ Wheels service on November 18 and hopes to use the same volunteers who currently deliver meals through the Royal Voluntary Service scheme.

He is also talking to businesses to try and gain sponsorship: “Our aim is to keep it local so it will be a business in the community, for the community and run by the community.”

Jamie Marks, 52, is a Chichester-based user of the service who feels volunteers are being treated harshly.

“Government policy supports volunteers in this country, giving work to people who are unemployed or retired early and these changes go against that policy.”

He said it was unfair to make them change the roles they carried out and there had been no consultation with users: “The first I knew about it was when I read it in the paper.”

He believed it would be more costly to deliver and the current £4.10 meal cost was bound to rise next year.

Priscilla Ayling, who delivers meals in the Midhurst area, said: “If it ain’t broke why fix it? I can’t see how this is going to work. I am going to wait and see what happens but I am not keen to continue if the service changes.”

An RVS spokesman said volunteers were an integral part of the charity and played an important role which would not change in principle under the new system.