Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has confirmed that the private provider of its Meals on Wheels service  will cease its contract with the Trust on 30 September 2023, with no alternative arrangements currently in place.
Responding to the news, Craig Harrison, Public Affairs Manager for Carers NI, said:
There is serious concern among families about the potential impact of the Meals on Wheels service in Belfast being disrupted or ending within a matter of weeks. The service plays an important role in supporting ill and disabled people’s independence at home, relieving pressure on their unpaid carers and giving them peace of mind that their loved ones are getting the sustenance they need every day. Without this service, it will inevitably fall onto the shoulders of unpaid carers to prepare and deliver the meals themselves, when so many are already exhausted by the scale of their caring roles. We can’t keep asking unpaid carers to do more and more because of gaps in statutory services, so it is critical that the Trust finds an alternative solution to ensure there is no disruption to this vital service beyond the end of September.”
Notes to editors
- Meals on Wheels provides hot, chilled or frozen meals to people who find it difficult, or can’t, prepare meals for themselves because of ill-health or a disability. In the Belfast Trust, 169 people were registered as using the service in 2021/22, over 70% of whom were aged 75+. See: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/statistics-community-care-adults-northern-ireland-202122.
- Carers NI is Northern Ireland’s membership charity for unpaid carers. We work to represent and support the over 220,000 people in Northern Ireland who provide unpaid care for ill, older or disabled family members or friends – fighting for increased recognition and support for all carers and to ensure they have a voice in policymaking.