Meals on Wheels provides a vital lifeline to West Sussex residents

Bagging up the meals. C110993-2
Bagging up the meals. C110993-2

Reaching out to vulnerable and elderly people in our community lies at the core of Meals on Wheels mission.

The West Sussex County Council-backed scheme is quietly but assuredly going about its work, assisting more than 250 residents from all walks of life.

As co-ordinator Claire Stubbs explains, its services have proved life-saving.

They offer a daily point of contact for people who have undergone hospital treatment and are returning home or suffer from mobility issues.

Its work also extends to mental health and other NHS patients who are receiving care in the community and have greatly benefited from such additional support services.

“Ours is a service that unfortunately has something of a stigma surrounding it,” said Bognor-based Claire.

“A lot of people don’t realise we’re still going, which is a shame.

“When people use us they do tend to stay with us.

“It’s just a question of getting through to them initially.”

She added the organisation’s work would not be possible without its dedicated team of several dozen volunteers operating from its Durban House base in Durban Road, Bognor Regis.

The service first began in the post-war years and previously ran from two centres, one in a small facility near Bognor fire station and the other within central Chichester, providing freshly-prepared meals kept warm via primitive mobile stoves.

While much of its hearty culinary offerings are now supplied in frozen form from West country-based firm Apetito, its range of fresh salads and fruit is sourced locally in a determined effort to make its food as appealing as possible.

Claire added: “I believe it’s a good service, as is the quality of food.”

She added: “I think it’s valuable as it creates a kind of neighbourly spirit with people taking meals to our clients and checking to see how they are.

“It really does make you feel like you are doing something worthwhile.”

Clearly, there’s plenty to consider on the logistical front in getting food out to people who are often in hard-to-reach rural locations.

But with so many dietary requirements to cater for, it seems some people are harder to please than others.

Claire added: “We do get a few tricky customers now and again, but we always win them round.

“The most challenging part is getting them to accept help with the meals when they have been used to their independence.

“But we get a lot of thanks from relatives of older people we have helped who are really grateful we are able to keep an eye on them.”

Her feelings were shared by volunteer John Holmes who added: “It’s really rewarding going out to people with the deliveries and interacting with customers who do benefit from it.”