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MELKSHAM Community Meals is appealing for help to keep the service running.
The popular service currently offers a place to eat for the community, including vulnerable and isolated older people, at the Assembly Hall on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The service has been held at the Assembly Hall since February this year with the support of the town council, who waived the rent for the first three months, and then a reduced rent up until the end of October.
But the town council’s rental agreement is coming to an end, and the service was unsuccessful in its application for a town council grant to cover the rent.
Now an appeal has been launched for sponsorship to help reduce its overheads, or for new premises from which to run the service.
Melksham Town Council said, “The Community Meals application was not successful as it did not meet the criteria for a grant from the town council.”
Melksham Community Meal’s Sue Mortimer, who led the successful campaign to continue the service after it was axed by Wiltshire Council in December last year, told Melksham News, “The service has been wrongly classed as a ‘business’ by Melksham Town Council and so will be subject to full rental charges for continued use of the Assembly Hall. In fact, the service has charitable objectives, is a not-for-profit organisation and has applied for charitable legal status.
“This service is important – it provides good food at reasonable prices and a welcoming environment for like-minded people, including vulnerable and isolated older people, who would not feel comfortable using mainstream pubs in the town on their own.
“The service will be re-branding its activities and targetting its promotion to older people, care homes and to care organisations such as Age UK Wiltshire, Carers Support Wiltshire, Alzheimer’s Support, MIND – and their clients.
“The service is seeking new premises – ideally on Wednesdays and Sundays – or sponsorship to reduce its overheads, and invites expressions of interest from organisations who share its ethos to host the service going forward.”
About how the service has helped its users, Sue said, “A lady called Margaret who recently moved to Melksham, told me that she chose Melksham because of its ‘age friendly’ status and came to Melksham Community Meals after seeing an advert in the Melksham News. She said that as you get older its not so easy to make friends and as a lady on her own she would feel too intimidated to go into a pub on her own. At the meals she said she was made to feel very welcome and that she hopes the meals continues because it helps older people avoid social isolation.
“Another user called Heather told me that lots of people would be lost without the service. Her husband, who suffers from depression, was told by the doctor to eat out when they can – so the meals are ideal for people in their position who don’t always feel like cooking to get out and socialise.”
To contact Sue about possible sponsorship or new premises, call 07719 935883.