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Volunteers needed to expand meals on wheels service

2nd June 2021

A Meals on Wheels service which is helping Kendal’s elderly and most isolated people to continue living independently is reaching out for more volunteers to come on board to help expand the service to five days a week.  

The catering team at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) worked closely with volunteers and Kendal Integrated Care Community (ICC) to launch the service in November 2020.  

As well as making meals for patients at Westmorland General Hospital and its staff, the catering team spends up to three hours a day making dishes for the Meals on Wheels, using freshly sourced products from local suppliers. Dishes include meat and potato pie with beetroot and mushy peas, tomato and basil pasta bake, a cold option such as a salad and bread roll, and warm sponge pudding or cold fruit salad. They also offer specialist diets for people who are gluten-free or who require a soft consistency diet or a puree diet. 

The Kendal service runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and serves 15 meals a day. Five volunteers are currently dedicating up to three hours over these days to deliver the meals across Kendal. The Trust now wants to expand the service to help more local people but needs to recruit more willing volunteers to help them deliver the meals. 

Tracy Litt, Catering Manager, UHMBT, said: “All of our volunteers have fed back that the Meals on Wheel service is a necessity and we want to be able to help more people in Kendal who are elderly or feeling vulnerable or isolated; but to do that, we need at least ten volunteers to be able to expand and run the service five days a week.  

“I want to thank all of the volunteers who have helped us to run the service so far, including Marie Murray at Kendal ICC and Barry Rigg and his team of volunteers who purchased the heated bags for us to enable us to keep the meals at the correct temperature while they are being delivered.” 

Volunteer Myles Ripley said: “I help by doing community meals because I am always interested in any ways that I can help my local community – I did many shifts at the hospital during lockdown distributing meal boxes to the employees and this outreach service to the community seemed a good way to keep in touch with the local hospital. I also do meals on wheels in Sedbergh.” 

Glenys Marriott’s parents, who are in their 90s, started using the service in November 2020. Glenys of Kendal, said: “Tracy Litt has been amazing and really flexible if my 96 and 93-year-old parents have had special requirements. The food arrives right on time, delivered by friendly volunteers. I met one today! The food is really well presented and nutritious and the menu offers alternatives including a vegetarian dish. My mother requested an occasional chicken dish and was pleased to see it on the menu for next week. It would be wonderful if it could be extended to a five-day service.” 

Alison Nicholson, Lead Nurse and Advanced Nurse Practitioner for Kendal ICC, said: “We are very proud as an ICC to support this venture and ensure older people have access to nutritious, home-cooked, hot meals regularly. We are grateful to Marie Murray our wellbeing coordinator, Tracy, Barry and Amanda and the catering team for their commitment to this innovation. We look forward to its continued success.” 

The Trust’s catering team also runs a successful Meals on Wheels service in Barrow which launched in April 2014.  

If you are interested in volunteering for the Kendal service you can contact Catering Manager Tracy Litt by emailing Tracy.Litt@mbht.nhs.uk or calling 01229 491001. People who are interested in receiving the service can contact Tracy directly on the above contact details.  

Those who are interested can volunteer on a dedicated day or more days if they are able to. The service will be as flexible as possible when people have holidays and personal bereavements. For each dedicated day, people would be expected to volunteer for between one and a half and two hours per day.  

Volunteers’ Week takes place from 1-7 June to say thanks for the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering. As part of Volunteers Week, we are celebrating our volunteers from across our Bay Health and Care Partners by sharing their stories on our website and on Twitter @MorecambeBHCP.