Iconic service announces it will no longer provide meals to the elderly and vulnerable
Meals on Wheels is to be completely withdrawn in Scotland by the end of the year, it has been revealed.
The iconic service, which offers a vital lifeline to thousands of elderly and vulnerable individuals, has already ceased in Argyll and Bute, Moray, East Dunbartonshire and West Dunbartonshire.
RVS, the charity which operates the service, said it could no longer ensure the service is safe and sustainable.
It started in the 1940s and expanded rapidly after the end of World War Two but was never made a statutory entitlement. Instead it remained a voluntary service and has largely depended on local authority funding.
The charity blamed a lack of support from local authorities for the loss.
Director Sam Ward said: "We lost a number of the services for a number of reasons. Some of them it's because the local authorities have gone out to tender and commercial companies have come into that space and taken those services.
"In other cases, because of all the pressures on the finances of local authorities, they've decided that they aren't going to actually continue with these contracts.
"That means over a period of the last few years we've gone from having over 80 services - we're just down to seven in Scotland and only 15 across the whole of the UK."
The news comes as another vital charity, Food Train North Ayrshire Food Train, announced its closure after its funding was slashed.
Morna O’ May, head of service at Contact the Elderly, said: “RVS reports it has gone from 80 services to just 15 in the space of three years. Food Train had believed it was going to expand its service and garnered the support of thousands when it found out the future was uncertain.
“At a time when tackling social isolation and managing the care of our ageing population has been high on the political agenda, the closure of these much-loved and vital services is a devastating, and ironic, blow.
“While there is no suggestion people will be left without alternatives, what Food Train and the RVS supplied went a lot further than simply a home delivery service. Support and companionship make up the cup of kindness that goes along with a nourishing meal.”
John Keenleyside, 89, from Forres used to be a meals on wheels volunteer.
He now benefits from the service and said: "It's good because the food is quite good and prepared for you. It saves you work.
"But the important aspect is having a different face coming into the home and giving you local news, weather conditions and things like that."
Health and Social Care Moray said everyone affected would get help finding alternative provision.
In a statement, it said: "All current recipients of Meals on Wheels have been informed that RVS will not be renewing its contract to deliver the service in Moray at the end of this month.”