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Despite a huge increase in demand, volunteers at Age Concern in Derry working hard to make sure its 'meals on wheels' service continues

Local charity has seen a 60% rise in meal requests in the wake of the coronavirus crisis

Despite a huge increase in demand, volunteers at Age Concern in Derry working hard to make sure its 'meals on wheels' service continues

Staff and volunteers prepare another batch of meals for elderly people in Derry.

A lifeline 'meals on wheels' service in Derry has seen a 60% increase in demand in recent weeks.

The daily service to scores of people has been provided for many years by Older People North West/Age Concern.

However, the local charity has seen requests for daily meals soar during the coronavirus crisis.

Before the lockdown was imposed, many elderly people would have attended Age Concern's base at Malvern House in the Waterside for meals every day.

However, now they are unable to leave to leave their homes, the charity is doing its best to ensure that everyone gets a hot meal each lunchtime.

To achieve this, they are relying on the efforts of a team of volunteers and staff members who have been redeployed from other roles within the organisation.

Previously, the meals would have been delivered each day in a van occupied by a couple of the Age Concern volunteers.

However, as a result of the social distancing guidelines, two people are not allowed to travel in the same vehicle together.

As a result, the charity has had to put another van on the road to help them through the next few weeks.

Each morning, the two vans are loaded up with hot dinners made on site at Malvern House.

The meals are then delivered to a large number of homes in the Waterside.

Given the level of demand, Age Concern is only able to deliver to houses in the Waterside area of Derry.

A spokeswoman for the Age Concern said the meals were not the only service being provided by their volunteers.

“We are also making sure that people are ok when we call to their houses,” she said.

“When our volunteers arrive at someone's house, they leave the meal outside so that the person can collect it themselves because of the social distancing rules.

“However, we ask the person to give us a wave to make sure they are ok.

“For many of the people who we visit each day, our volunteers might be the only people they see so we provide a vital lifeline for so many people.”

The spokeswoman said it was a very busy time for Age Concern.

“We estimate that the demand for our meals on wheels has gone up around 60% in the last couple of weeks.

“Before, a lot of people would have been able to come in to the centre for their meals but that obviously is not possible anyone given the coronanvirus restrictions.

“These people are now confined to their own homes but it is great that we are still able to provide them with a hot meal every day.

“This would not be possible without the commitment of our staff and volunteers who are brilliant and are so important in ensuring that we can maintain this very important service,” added the Age Concern spokeswoman.

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