Worthing WRVS to the rescue with hot meals at Christmas

Ursula Hopper with Daphne Snyman
Ursula Hopper with Daphne Snyman

WHEN you are tucking in to your Christmas dinner on the big day, you may not have time to spare a thought for those who cannot cook for themselves.

But, luckily, members of the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) in Worthing do.

The charity supplies hot meals-on-wheels to elderly residents in the Worthing, Lancing and Shoreham areas, and is the only WRVS kitchen in West Sussex to stay open 365 days a year.

A mixture of paid staff and volunteers work every single day of the year to deliver around 300 meals a day – all of which are nutritionally balanced and tailored to suit each person’s dietary needs.

On the days around Christmas Day, around 100 people still depend on their hot meal being brought to them in their homes, and the WRVS staff make sure they do not miss out on some Christmas spirit, either.

Organiser of the WRVS service, Do Gauntlett, said the service is currently taking orders for a full turkey dinner and Christmas pudding.

“We like to make sure the residents do not miss out,” she said.

“And the staff really get into it, as well. They often dress up to deliver the meals, and we make sure all the residents receive a Christmas card.”

The driving team will also be delivering seasonal hampers to residents – donated by members of the Lancing and Sompting Lions Club, the festive boxes are filled with goods which are elderly friendly, such as non-perishable goods and items which are easy to open.

At the centre, based in North Road, Worthing, work starts at 8.30am, when the cooks arrive to start preparing the meals for the day.

Not only do the kitchen staff prepare the hot meals, they also prepare sandwiches and cake for an afternoon tea, and frozen meals for residents who would like a meal on days they do not usually receive deliveries.

Drivers then take off with their boxes of hot food at around 11.30am. While the charity has two vans to deliver food, most volunteers use their own vehicles to do their rounds.

Ursula Hopper, 77, has been driving meals to elderly Worthing residents in her green Nissan Micra for 12 years.

“The clients are really very appreciative,” she said.

“I got into this after I retired because I thought it was worthwhile and it creates a bit of structure to my week.

“I usually have around 15 residents to see per round, so the meetings are quite brief, but they seem pleased to see you nonetheless.

“You do get to know the residents, slowly. You pick up bits and pieces about them every time.”

And, seemingly, the residents could not sing the praises of the service more highly.

Daphne Snyman, 89, said the WRVS service was “God’s greatest gift”.

“They are truly wonderful people,” she said. “I don’t know what I would do without them

“Beautiful food is brought to your door by truly wonderful people.

“I have made so many lovely friends. I could not ask for any more from these people.”

Ursula said the job can be demanding, but she loves her voluntary job.

She said: “I can’t see me giving this up. I’ll probably keep doing it until I physically can’t.”