COME snow, sleet or ice this winter, a meals on wheels service is ensuring the elderly get a fresh meal whatever the weather.
Last year, there was concern for pensioners in the winter weather, and some were trapped in their houses by the heavy snow and ice.
But this Christmas, Mark Baxter from the Copper Kettle cafe in Ashington, Northumberland, has started a meals on wheels service to keep house-bound pensioners and disabled people supplied with fresh food. The main difference between his local service and other companies is that it is all cooked by him fresh at the cafe.
And having recently started the service supplying to just 12 people, it has already expanded to more than 30 – and it keeps increasing as the weather gets colder.
He has also had offers from volunteers to help cook and supply the meals, as people recognise how important the service will be for the welfare of elderly people over the winter months. Mark charges just £3 for two courses.
Mark started the service when other avenues dried up, leaving pensioners facing expensive frozen meals. He varies the menu each day, with chicken casserole, roast beef and mince and potato pie among the mains, all with two vegetables and potatoes, and puddings such as rhubarb crumble, trifle, sponge and rice pudding.
He said: “For a lot of them it’s invaluable to them. Some are housebound because of their age. You go into some people’s houses and it’s stone cold because they’re frightened to put their heating on.
“We’ve had people offering to volunteer and help, and deliver meals to the elderly. There’s been a lot of good responses from the community saying it’s a fantastic idea.
“At the end of the day it’s to help the elderly. If carers or families know I’m going with a meal it’s one less job they have to do, and they see someone every day. For some of them I’m the only person they see all day.”
Kathleen Maughan, from Ashington, has diabetes and found it extremely difficult to get out of her front door in last winter’s snow to get shopping to ensure she ate properly for her condition.
She said if the weather gets bad again this year, the service will make all the difference and has already signed up to the meals.
She said: “Last year I had trouble getting out and about. When I put my feet out of the door it was up to my knees. So this will be a godsend. I haven’t got to worry about getting out to make myself a meal.”
Raymond Crowe, also from Ashington, has been looking after mother Joyce, 87, after she had a spell in hospital, so even without the bad weather the service has been vital.
The 67-year-old said: “It’s been a big help to me – it’s very important because I’m looking after my mother.”