Our Meals on Wheels service is biggest in country

A customer receives his hot meal
A customer receives his hot meal
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A National Meals on Wheels Week takes place this month, and Hertfordshire has special reason to celebrate.

The county is a bucking a national trend by creating the biggest Meals on Wheels service in the country.

Herts County Council has formed a groundbreaking partnership with Hertfordshire Independent Living Service (HILS) – a social enterprise delivering more than 470,000 meals to about 4,000 vulnerable people 365 days a year.

Nationally, the number of people receiving meals on wheels in England has fallen by nearly two-thirds in the past five years.

During that period, Herts County Council has invested about £5 million with HILS, formerly called Herts Community Meals, to create the biggest meals on wheels service in the country, with a social return on investment of £5.28 for every £1 invested.

Extra services include telecare, home fire safety visits and free eye checks in the home.

Colette Wyatt-Lowe, cabinet member for adult care and health, said: “This service is not just about the delivery of a hot meal. For some older people, it is their only point of social contact during the day.

“Deliverers provide some welcome company, but they can also play a vital role in flagging up any concerns about their clients so they can remain independent, healthy and happy.

“A recent survey revealed that more than three- quarters of the people who receive the service visit their GP less as a result, so it’s great for them and it also saves money from the public purse.”

HILS chief executive Sarah Wren said: “The support of the county council has helped us to become increasingly successful. In the past year alone, we supported more than 11,000 people to stay independent in Hertfordshire.”