For many elderly people in Broken Hill, the cheery call of “Meals” signals both lunch and company and Meals on Wheels volunteers now also have a distinctive look.
“We’ve purchased high-vis vests for the safety of our deliverers and drivers,” said Meals on Wheels Vice-President, Cheryl Meuret.
“Usually, two people go on each round and, especially on days like today when it’s a bit dim out there, crossing roads and getting things out of the back of the cars can be a risk.”
The Broken Hill Lions Club assisted with the purchase of the vests and Blackwoods embroidered ‘Meals on Wheels’ on the front.
The high-visibility vests are for the safety of the volunteers and the embroidery improves security for the clients, according to Mrs Meuret.
“Some people just open the doors and trust that you’re the person you say you are,” she said.
“A lot of the clients have said how good the embroidery looks and they feel more secure knowing where we’re from.
“Nothing’s happened to warrant it but we just thought it was a precaution.”
The embroidered vests are now seen outside more homes as the service is growing.
“We’re getting four rounds, with about 20 clients in each round,” said Mrs Meuret.
With more and more clients joining the service, Meals on Wheels needs more volunteers.
“We have picked up some new ones this year but, with COVID and people having to go into isolation, we are always looking for drivers and deliverers,” said Mrs Meuret.
The time commitment is very small at just an hour and a half a day, once a week, fortnight or month, or even on a call-in basis.
“Most people do it either weekly or fortnightly,” said Mrs Meuret.
“My husband and I do it together – he drives and I deliver.”
Age is no barrier, as was shown by last year’s Senior Volunteer of the Year.
“Fay Rolton was in her eighties when she retired as a deliverer, which she’d done for 30 years,” said Mrs Meuret.
Sometimes the only friendly face the elderly clients see in a day is of a Meals on Wheels volunteer and the work is very rewarding.
“It’s the people you meet, the stories you hear,” said Mrs Meuret.
“All these oldies have got a story to tell.”
Anyone who has volunteered at Meals on Wheels understands the satisfaction from helping elderly people to continue to live in their own homes, often with their pets.
“Now, anyone that’s living on their own, if you’re discharged from hospital, you get a six-month care plan which includes Meals on Wheels, a cleaner and a shower lady,” said Mrs Meuret.
“It gets you out of hospital, back into your own home.
“Whereas before, you’d have to stay in hospital because there was no-one to care for you.”