Meals on wheels staff face the axe

A NUMBER of meals on wheels staff are facing redundancy as part of a shake-up that is claimed will deliver a better service, The Evening Star can reveal today.

A NUMBER of meals on wheels staff are facing redundancy as part of a shake-up that is claimed will deliver a better service, The Evening Star can reveal today.

Following a review by Suffolk County Council, organisations were invited to tender proposals on how the county's meals on wheels service could be improved in the future.

The WRVS, which currently already supplies hot meals, won the contract for a further five years but will make a number of changes to streamline the operation.

This includes replacing the existing 16 kitchens in Suffolk with three in Ipswich, Bury, and Lowestoft.

Meanwhile a number of staff will lose their jobs.

A WRVS spokesman said: “The new, improved service will provide better quality and more consistent support throughout the county.

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“To achieve these improvements we need to change the way we organise the service. At the moment there are 16 kitchens providing the service in different ways.

“To ensure better consistency and improvements in choice and flexibility we will replace them with three new kitchens that will cover the whole county.

“This means that some employees at the current kitchens may be made redundant and some of our volunteers may find the changes make it more inconvenient with regards to travel.

“WRVS is discussing these issues with staff and volunteers at the moment, looking at how we can continue to involve as many of our current volunteers and employees in the new service as possible.”

The changes have not gone down well with many staff.

One woman, who did not wish to be named, said concentrating Ipswich operations on the Farthing Road Industrial Estate in Ipswich would make travelling to work far more difficult.

She said a number of workers felt they had no been consulted properly on the plans.

She said: “We all feel they have not gone about things the right way. We do not know what's happening about redundancies, they are just not telling us anything.”

The WRVS say the new service will “significantly improve” the support provided to older people who are unable to cook their main meal at home.

At the moment older people get different levels of support depending on where they live: in some areas meals are provided two or three days a week, while in others people can receive them seven days a week.

The new service will be able to provide meals to people seven days a week, 365 days a year in every part of Suffolk. It will also provide more choice of meals and a range of payment methods.

Will you be affected by the changes? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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