Meals on Wheels could be a thing of the past in the Bury St Edmunds area, if a review into the service’s future decides it should close.
Royal Voluntary Service, which operates Meals on Wheels, confirmed this week it was reviewing the service with a decision on its future due to be made in the next ‘couple of months’.
Sam Ward, director of commissioned services, said: “The well-being of the older people we support is our priority and while we are reviewing the service, we are talking to the council and to alternative providers about how their needs can continue to be met.”
She added that the number of Meals on Wheels services across Britain run by the charity had reduced dramatically in the past decade, to the point it had ‘become harder for the charity to sustain the handful of services remaining as much of the infrastructure we used to rely on to support Meals on Wheels has depleted’.
Julia Wakelam, chairman of the charity Gatehouse, which works with vulnerable people, is concerned about the loss of human contact for those currently using the service.
“Some of the people who come to Gatehouse for the day then don’t see anyone else for the rest of the week. I am sure many of the people receiving Meals on Wheels are in the same position. The social contact could be more important than the meal itself,” she said.
“At Gatehouse, we would look at doing something to support people affected by this, but unfortunately what we can’t offer is transport.”
Jo Reeder, head of fund-raising and marketing at Age UK Suffolk, said: “Meals on Wheels offer a vital service to many older people, not just with providing a hot meal but also offering essential contact and helping to combat loneliness and social isolation.”
She encouraged any older people needing support to contact 01473 351234 for advice.
Jane Ballard, district manager of the CAB, said: “It is always a concern when valuable services are withdrawn, so I hope that this does not happen.
“People who have concerns that the service is being withdrawn from them are welcome to contact us to discuss this.”
A Suffolk County Council spokesman said it stopped running Meals on Wheels in September 2014 following a 75 per cent reduction in the number of customers between April 2011 and September 2014.