A special Meals on Wheels Week celebration cake gifted by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. Photo by Lyndsey Haskell
The National Association of Care Catering (NACC) and The Bevy community pub in Moulsecoomb, Brighton, welcomed a very special guest today (Wednesday 4 November). Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall made a virtual visit to the community-owned pub and Bevy Meals on Wheels in support of Meals on Wheels Week 2020.
The royal virtual visit was organised by the NACC as part of its annual Meals on Wheels Week (2-6 November 2020), a national event that raises awareness of and celebrates the UK’s essential Meals on Wheels service that delivers nutritious hot meals to older and vulnerable people in the community and a social lifeline to ease isolation and loneliness.
With the focus on the important frontline role Meals on Wheels services are playing during the Covid-19 pandemic, Her Royal Highness learned more about The Bevy and how it has adapted to continue to support the community in challenging times.
The only community pub on a housing estate in the UK, The Bevy is a crucial resource in Moulsecoomb, a low-income area in the city of Brighton. As well as great food, the lively local offers regular activities and events to support the elderly, vulnerable and hard-pressed families, including Lunch Clubs and a Dementia Café. When lockdown forced The Bevy to close its doors in March, the team was determined that those who relied on its services for physical and mental wellbeing continued to be supported. Bevy Meals on Wheels was created and by working with local schools, churches and charities, it has delivered more than 6000 meals, plus additional help and social contact, safely to the doorsteps of those in need. A vital service it will continue to provide as England enters a second national lockdown.
Hosted online by Sue Cawthray, the National Chair of the NACC, The Duchess learned more about the importance of Meals on Wheels Week and the inspiring work of The Bevy, which features in the NACC’s special collection of Meals on Wheels case studies as an essential community initiative that has had a positive impact on many lives. The Duchess also arranged for a special gift of a Meals on Wheels Week celebration cake to be delivered into The Bevy, which was shared with the small group of Bevy Meals on Wheels customers who had the privilege of attending the event in line with the current guidelines.
Sue Cawthray said about the visit: “It was an absolute honour to host Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall virtually. We were thrilled that given the current situation that The Duchess was able to still meet with us for Meals on Wheels Week in a safe way. We’re very grateful for the valuable support The Duchess has given to the event and the NACC’s work to highlight the vital role Meals on Wheels services play in the community, and especially during the pandemic.
“As the number of elderly and vulnerable people living in the community has increased significantly as a direct result of Covid-19, demand on Meals on Wheels services have increased up to 30%. Up and down the country services have adapted and innovated to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing of the elderly, vulnerable and isolated living in the community continue to be cared for. And as second lockdowns take effect the need for the vital service is escalated. As well as delivering a daily nutritious meal, they also deliver important wellbeing checks, information and a friendly face to break the loneliness, which is intensified by lockdown. And it’s not just established Meals on Wheels services that have been our heroes, we have also seen many in the hospitality sector use their skills and facilities to support those in need. The Bevy is a fantastic example of this, and it’s been a privilege to introduce the wonderful community resource to The Duchess.
“The pandemic has put a spotlight on the importance of the Meals on Wheels service and we must continue to protect it for future generations. An honorary member of the NACC since 2009, The Duchess’ continued support of our work will have a significant impact in achieving this.”
Helen Jones, General Manager of The Bevy and Co-Ordinator of Bevy Meals on Wheels, said: “The Duchess’ virtual visit to The Bevy has been wonderful and we’re overwhelmed that our community pub has been recognised in this way. It has been a fantastic, memorable occasion for our team and community to enjoy, and really lifted spirits as we re-enter lockdown.
“The setting up of Bevy Meals on Wheels was vitally important. Running two weekly Lunch Clubs, Friday Friends and Bridge the Gap, and a Dementia café, we were very aware of the existing social isolation and loneliness among local seniors and we knew lockdown would make this worse. We had to continue to offer them support and with our connections into the local community and our established kitchen and relationship with FareShare, we were able to hit the ground running.
“As word got around, we quickly gained more ‘customers’ and we now have a more diverse group of local residents on our delivery lists. As well as our ‘known seniors’ we are serving individuals and families with health and financial issues.
“As we continue to live in very uncertain times, we’re making social contact at a safe distance and finding out what people need as well as providing a little bit of structure and connection to the outside world and letting people know that they are cared about.”