The other side of Christmas: Meals on Wheels could be only face some see

THE smiling faces of the Guernsey Voluntary Service’s Meals on Wheels team will brighten up the days of many this festive season – because for some they will be the only people they see that day.

For many people who live alone, or have family members who live in the UK or abroad, contact with the volunteers is looked forward to just as much as the hot food.

‘Some clients only see one person in the day and this might be the volunteer,’ said Meals on Wheels organiser Niki Martin.

‘They have a five or 10-minute chat just to see how they are and for them to see a nice, bright, happy face.’

Mandy Le Bachelet, manager of the Guernsey Voluntary Service, which runs Meals on Wheels, said they often supported clients’ families too, who may also be struggling because they cannot see their loved one.

Meals on Wheels volunteer Kevin Harris. (30328519)

‘We’re there for the families, especially if they’re not on-island, so we can report back with any concerns, which we know is appreciated.

‘The contact is very important and reassuring for the family member as well – it’s very much a human touch.’

Sometimes the GVS volunteers were the only people who saw that family member, she said.

‘We are the eyes and ears of the community as well.’

These interactions mean so much to islanders and their families and Mrs Martin said they receive a lot of feedback.

‘I do get lots of calls from clients saying thank you to the volunteers and sending cards at Christmas,’ she said.

‘I feel like I become part of the family. It’s rewarding for me because it’s not just a job I’m doing – I feel included.’

Meals on Wheels is anticipating getting busier as Christmas approaches, with an estimated 2,300 meals to be delivered, after numbers dipped earlier this year due to clients being in hospital.

Last year, more than 1,800 meals were delivered during the Christmas period.

‘Numbers definitely increase towards the Christmas period as we expect lots of people to be released out of hospital for Christmas,’ Mrs Martin added.

In total, bearing in mind the effects of the longer lockdown, more than 24,000 meals were delivered last year, and it is estimated 23,000 will have been delivered by the end of this year.

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