Plea for more meals on wheels volunteers in North Walsham

Mark Rushen, owner of The Cockerel Deli, North Walsham, is looking for volunteers to help with his meals on wheels service. 
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY Mark Rushen, owner of The Cockerel Deli, North Walsham, is looking for volunteers to help with his meals on wheels service. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Thursday, August 22, 2013
6:30 AM

Elderly and lonely people in rural communities are missing out on meals on wheels because of a lack of volunteers.

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The service is run by husband and wife team Claire and Mark Rushen, from their Cockerel restaurant on North Street, North Walsham, They took on meal on wheels at the end of last year after it was scrapped by Norfolk County Council.

Mr Rushen, 48, who took over the Cockerel in April 2007, said: “We have hit a brick wall finding volunteers. We have got a lot of people who want deliveries but not enough people to deliver them.”

If there were more volunteers 20 extra people in areas including Mundesley, Knapton, Walcott, Bacton, Worstead, Dilham, Trunch and Smallburgh could receive meals on a daily basis.”

The meals are cooked at the Cockerel by Mr Rushen and cost £6 per day Monday to Friday. Meals for Saturdays and Sundays, costing £5 each, can also be delivered on Fridays.There are currently 12 volunteers who deliver the meals to about 40 people in North Walsham every lunchtime from 11.30am-1pm Monday to Friday.

They receive money for mileage and can use any form of transport - one of the volunteers uses a motorbike.

Mr Rushen said: “We live in a small community and want to look after the community. It is rewarding and there is something nice about seeing people.

“The more volunteers we have the quicker the service can be.”

Mr Rushen said the main difficulty was when volunteers could not do the rounds and he and his wife had to take time out from the restaurant and fill in.

“If a volunteer doesn’t come in we have to deliver the food and we have to vanish for an hour and our restaurant suffers.

“Up to now we can run round North Walsham and do it quickly but if we have to go out to other villages it will take longer. We cannot afford to run out of the restaurant indefinitely.

“The bigger the pool of volunteers, the easier it is,” he added.

Mr Rushen said this month was a “nightmare” for deliveries because a lot of the volunteers were away on holiday.

He added: “We cannot have another summer like this one. We have enough volunteers to carry on in North Walsham but we cannot add on any more deliveries.”

Out of the current recipients of meals on wheels in North Walsham, 80pc are elderly, 10pc are disabled and the rest are young people who are convalescing after a stay in hospital.

As well as delivering the food, the volunteers check on the condition of the person and sometimes find elderly people who have fallen and have to ring paramedics.

They are often the only people the customers see and talk to on a regular basis.

The Rev Eiler Mellerup, curate of the Coastal Group of Parishes, which covers Bacton and Walcott, said there were people who would benefit from the service in the community.

To volunteer call 01692 403743 or email mark@thecockerelonwheels.co.uk.

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