Bek Collin and Jane White from Ipswich Meals on Wheels, which joined forces with Lowood and Redbank.
Bek Collin and Jane White from Ipswich Meals on Wheels, which joined forces with Lowood and Redbank.

Groups join wheels together to provide better meal service

IPSWICH Meals on Wheels – which earlier in the year joined forces with the Redbank and Lowood Meals on Wheels services – has been keeping up with demand during coronavirus, but this week put a call out for more “emergency” volunteers.

Ipswich Meals on Wheels Manager Jane White said across the three services, there was currently about 200 volunteers, with the majority in Ipswich.

“That’s a good number, but what is always useful is having more people on our emergency lists so that when someone phones up and says they can’t come in today, we’ve got other people we can call on.”

Ms White said the decision was made earlier in the year to merge Lowood and Redbank with the Ipswich service to combine and reduce the level of reporting work that needed to be done across the three services.

“Lowood and Redbank are still getting the same meals delivered by the same people – there’s been no operational changes.

READ MORE: Volunteers desperately required to keep meals on the road

“But now we only have one lot of reporting to do to our funding body, and that was the main point behind it.”

Between the three regions, volunteers deliver to about 250 clients, with some people using the service regularly and some a couple of times a week.

“The numbers have picked up recently with people not going to their local clubs,” Ms White said

“And in a 12-month period, the number of people we go to could be double that.”

She said people often called on Meals on Wheels for short periods of time such as when they had returned home from hospital and needed help.

“I think Meals on Wheels is an incredible service. I’ve been here in Ipswich for 31 years and it’s a great job,” Ms White said.

“You’re helping people and there’s not many jobs where you can say that where you work, everybody wants to be there.

“The people you work with choose to be here.”

Ms White said volunteers also cared for their clients by taking note of their health and reporting back to her if necessary.

“It’s not only providing that meal to them but it’s that bit of social contact and ‘wellness’ contact.

“When you see people on a regular basis, you can pick up on when they don’t seem as good as usual.

“If a volunteer mentions that about a client for a couple of days in a row, I will ring the family and let them know.

She said that if the service was calling a client and didn’t receive an answer, they would begin phoning around to make sure they were okay.

“They might have just gone shopping or sometimes they’ve gone to hospital or there have been occasions where they’ve had a fall and we ring the family who then go and help them.

“Our logo is ‘More than Just a Meal’, and we are definitely that.”

To become a Meals on Wheels volunteer, phone the Ipswich branch on (07) 3281 4465.

Articles contributed by Louise Shannon were supported by the Judith Neilson Institute of Journalism and Ideas