Mention the name Meals on Wheels and immediately the words community and support come to mind. Support that goes both ways, for the long list of clients that rely on meals being delivered to their homes, but also for the thousands of employees and volunteers across the country that have kept the service running for so many years.
In Dubbo, with the ongoing concern over coronavirus and the increasing lock-down situation, elderly people are turning to Meals on Wheels more than ever. Service Manager for Dubbo Meals on Wheels, Peter English, said that the organisation was more than ready for the challenge.
"It's been a bit difficult with the working conditions given our office is shut and people have to work from home, but we are still open and meals are still going out," he said. "We have prepared and delivered an extra 30 per cent of meals compared to what we did four to six weeks ago so it has been a challenge but we have handled it well".
Normally the group is staffed by six full time employees along with three casuals and a small army of volunteers, however given most of the volunteers are over the age of 65, they have been temporarily stood down on the back of the governments lock down and social distancing laws. Peter said it was a shame people weren't able to volunteer during such a difficult time, however fresh helping hands had become available.
"It's always amazing to have our volunteers and I thank them for understanding what has needed to happen during this time of crisis," he said. "Thanks to the Federal Government we have been able to recruit five nursing students from our local CSU campus to help deliver our meals. It has not only taken the pressure off our remaining staff but also helps build a great relationship with the university and the students, and provides them valuable experience in the field".
The support for Meals on Wheels from across Dubbo has been warmly received. Woolworth's donated 5500 toilets rolls that were distributed throughout the community to those in need, while businesses including the Garden Hotel, Macquarie Inn, Club Dubbo and Scott's Parts plus donated hundreds of dollars worth of food and equipment to the much loved community organisation.
Peter said the team was grateful for all the support and wanted to assure the community that Meals on Wheels would continue to provide it's services across the region. "It's not just meals we deliver, we provide transport for clients and help keep an eye on their physical and mental health," he said. "It's a great assurance for families and communities". For more information call 02 6882 4083 or visit www.mealsonwheelsdubbo.org.au.