Apology to upset Horsham volunteers

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The Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) has assured volunteers their concerns are being heard following changes to the Horsham district’s Meals on Wheels service.

A deal struck between West Sussex County Council and the RVS to base the service in Crawley instead of Horsham was described as ‘a disaster waiting to happen’ by a Horsham volunteer.

In a statement, RVS chief executive David McCullough apologised for the confusion caused by the changes.

He said: “We have met with our volunteers and listened to their views and concerns about the new Meals on Wheels service in West Sussex.

“The feedback of our volunteers is very important to us, and their involvement in the transition to the new service is critical, so we have decided to delay the full rollout and implement the changes over a short period of time.

“The new Meals on Wheels service will begin as planned at day centres on Tuesday November 19.”

The statement continued: “We are sorry for the confusion caused to our customers and volunteers and will be working hard to ensure the rollout is a success.”

The changes involve three professional drivers based in Crawley delivering meals to about 100 elderly people in the Horsham district that benefit from the plan.

Under the current system, the RVS volunteers heat up meals at their Horsham base and distribute it themselves to those who are part of the Meals on Wheels plan.

Last month, a Horsham volunteer told the County Times: “It is a disaster waiting to happen.

“What they are asking us to do is act as unpaid social workers for the county council.

“There are 60 volunteers there and we all give up a lot of our time, and they have treated the volunteers very shabbily.”

A county council spokesperson said: “Volunteers are very much at the heart of this new service.”