BY LINDA FOO GUEST
ANEW charity shop is to open to raise funds for restoring a subsidised meals on wheels service in Wirral.
The shop will be run by a newly formed charity called Wirral Community Meals.
Trustees hope that profits from the shop will help people with the cost of the service.
Pensioners have had to pay the full cost of a meal since subsidises were axed in 2012 as part of Wirral Council’s cuts to tackle the budget deficit.
The charity, which is run by volunteers, aims to bring back the service at a subsidised rate.
It will first concentrate on the Bromborough and Bebington area before rolling it out borough-wide.
Negotiations are still on-going but plans are for the charity shop to be in The Rake Precinct, Bromborough village, with the hope of opening by the end of this month. Trustee Val Hamlet, who founded the charity, puts her inspiration down to her 93-year-old friend Bunty Jones, of Prenton, who relies on the service.
She said: “Bunty still gets her meals delivered but without any subsidy. Now she has to pay the full price of £4.80 per meal instead of £2.50 before the cuts.
“It’s a lot of money for pensioners to pay, very costly. But it is a convenient and necessary service that’s relied on by pensioners.
“Bunty herself used to help with the meals on wheels service in the 1950s.”
Opening the charity shop was made possible thanks to a £2,800 grant from Merseyside Waste and Recycling Authority (MRWA) and Veolia Environmental Services Ltd Community Fund.
Val, from Claughton, added: “We know that there have been some hard decisions to make about services across the area, including the meals on wheels service, but we were determined to find another way of getting the service up and running again.
“The grant from MRWA and Veolia will mean we don’t have to worry about the first few months’ rent for the charity shop, and Wirral Council has also been great in helping us get started.”
The shop will sell used clothing, household goods and bric-a-brac.
The charity will also teach traditional textile skills, and encourage people to transform old clothes and fabric into rag rugs and quilts.
Val said: “Meals on wheels was started in the Blitz during the Second World War, food was transported around using old vintage prams.
“As an avid fan and owner of vintage prams, I have now found a perfect use for them to remind people of how meals on wheels first started, and the community spirit behind its origins.”
MRWA’s chairman, Cllr Graham Morgan, said: “Councils across the country are making very hard decisions to save every penny.
“Our modest grant to Wirral Community Meals will encourage recycling on Wirral, and support a small group of energetic residents committed to finding a different way of delivering the meals on wheels service.”