Volunteers on wheels

Volunteers are being sought to join driver Alf Caldwell and the team at Bega Valley Meals on Wheels Plus.
Volunteers are being sought to join driver Alf Caldwell and the team at Bega Valley Meals on Wheels Plus.

Bega Valley Meals on Wheels Plus is appealing for more volunteers from the Eden area, to help the organisation continue to provide essential services to our local community.

While the trend in meal delivery services has been towards providing a week’s worth of frozen meals at a time, the local service is keen to provide “the best of both worlds” to its clients by continuing their increasingly popular hot meals option.

The organisation’s food services coordinator, Ben Deighan, says there are around 22 clients in Eden and surrounding towns benefitting from the program.

“We’re selling more hot meals than we’ve ever done in Eden, and we really believe that while frozen meals offer a lot of choice and are very convenient, we should offer the best of both worlds for our clients,” Ben said.

“They’re becoming more and more popular, and our clients are obviously enjoying the quality of the meals prepared by Naomi Goodyear from Twofold Aboriginal Corporation.

“We’re looking for more volunteers to help us deliver these meals, and it should be noted that we reimburse all our volunteers for out-of-pocket expenses.

“At the moment, most of our volunteers help out once a month, so we definitely don’t burn anyone out.

“The volunteering experience can be tailored, and how often you help out is really up to you and the coordinator.”

Hot meals are delivered on a daily basis as part of the local service, which is funded by the Department of Social Services to provide 29,000 hot meals this financial year.

Such is its popularity, Bega Valley Meals on Wheels Plus are looking at exceeding that target and reaching around 30,000.

Ben says the benefits for clients are much deeper than simply being provided with food.

“Whereas frozen meals are delivered once a week, hots meals are done daily, so it’s good in that some of our clients who live alone have someone checking in on them and giving them a bit of company,” he said.

“For many people, a daily visit from a volunteer becomes a big part of their life.”

While Meals on Wheels is a nationally renowned service, the Bega Valley branch provides additional services including an assisted shopping program, and social clubs.

Ben says volunteers are also being sought to help out in these areas.

“Our assistance program, Neighbour Aid, pairs volunteers with clients and helps them with daily tasks like doing their shopping or going to the bank,” he said.

“It operates all around the Bega Valley, but in Eden we have around half a dozen clients using that service, so we’re always looking for more volunteers.

“We also have social clubs that run once a week in Bermagui, Bega and Candelo, providing a meal and activities like gentle exercise and arts and craft.

“Once a month, they also have a group outing, and we need a couple of volunteers to help our coordinator run this.”

To volunteer for Bega Valley Meals on Wheels Plus, please contact Ben on 6492 4146.