‘I cannot see them brushed aside’ – Charity steps in to save Suffolk’s meals on wheels service
- Credit: Archant
Suffolk’s meals on wheels service has been saved by a charity to support hundreds of older people relying on its “vital lifeline”.
Aspect Living Foundation (ALF) stepped in after national funding cuts forced the Royal Voluntary Service, to end meals on wheels after 10 years in the county.
The service has reduced since Suffolk County Council (SCC) removed its subsidy in 2014, and relies on private payments.
RVS operated under this model - but said a “dramatic reduction” in services nationally made it hard to sustain those remaining.
Despite the challenges, ALF said it was committed to helping its 400 customers – and hopes to expand.
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Tess Aristodemou, the charity’s chief executive, used to work for RVS and said she had a passionate board of experienced trustees to ensure its success, as well as support from Suffolk businesses John Grose and Pound Gates.
Given Suffolk’s ageing population Ms Aristodemou said she was not prepared to see the “vital lifeline” brushed aside.
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“People don’t understand the isolation and loneliness that can face people in older life,” she added. “I cannot see them brushed aside because of government and council cuts. Many of these people tell our drivers ‘I don’t know what I would do without you’. There’s no way I would let it disappear.”
Sam Ward at RVS wished ALF “every success” with the service.
“Our volunteers and staff have worked tremendously hard at the service for many years and we know that their efforts have been hugely appreciated,” she added. “We would like to take this opportunity to thank them for everything they have done.”
Sarah Adams, leader of the Labour group at SCC, said she was “delighted” ALF had saved meals on wheels but added it was a “disgrace” there was not a properly funded public service.
“The Labour group have been arguing for many years that the meals on wheels service provides a vital service for older people who are at risk from social isolation and the very many issues that brings,” she added. “Social isolation increases the risk of both mental and physical illness and leads to much more costly interventions further down the line. “
SCC said it was committed to meeting people’s needs. A spokesman said the changes to community meals in 2014 followed consultation and gave customers “more choice and control”.