L-R Chris Boulton CEO Greenham Trust, Richard Smith Head of Catering at Newbury Racecourse, James Wilcox Chief Executive at AGE Concern, Michael Spencer Group Director at Swift, Angela Dudley Fairclose Day centre and Mike Payne – Chef at Newbury Racecourse

Newbury Racecourse have launched a partnership with Age Concern Newbury & District to feed the most vulnerable elderly in West Berkshire during the COVID-19 crisis along with Swift Couriers. Age Concern Newbury & District have delivered meals on wheels in the district for over 50 years,  and have  developed a safe solution, scrutinised by Healthwatch West Berkshire in consultation with West Berkshire Council Adult Social Care and Public Health, to upscale their operation to help more vulnerable elderly people by working with Newbury Racecourse and Swift.

Newbury Racecourse are pledging their support to the initiative by providing a Meals on Wheels hub in a contained and dedicated area, using the available kitchens and chefs to support the escalating number of vulnerable people who require the service, as well as donating £1,000 worth of food from their existing supplies and waiving any fees associated with the use of the site.

Chefs from both the Fair Close Centre, run by Age Concern Newbury & District, and Newbury Racecourse have joined forces to prepare hot nutritious meals up to seven days a week. Swift Couriers is making available technology and support to optimise delivery routes and have also pledged to provide vans to deliver snack packs to outlying areas to help the most vulnerable people in the Borough. Efforts will support and be supported by the emergency Coronavirus appeal which the Greenham Trust has recently launched.

The Meals on Wheels service will continue to be a paid for service, with orders made over the phone. Those wishing to obtain the service who are over 65 can call 01635 40488 to order meals. The lunchtime service will be extended to 7-days a week as soon as possible with phased planning to meet the growing demand.

Chief Executive of Age Concern Newbury & District, James Wilcox said:

“The Fair Close Centre currently provides a very popular Meals on Wheels service to many vulnerable individuals, but we have seen this number more than double in the last two weeks. It is imperative that we provide proper safeguarding for all those entitled to the service as demand increases. All our volunteer drivers are DBS checked and they will also be receiving bespoke training developed by Healthwatch. Wherever possible, we will provide hot nutritious meals. We know for many, this will be the only meal they eat in 24hrs. We will also support with snack packs for the evening.

“Equally important is direct contact over the phone with individuals to also find out their current wellbeing. We are so grateful to Swift Couriers for their distribution and logistics expertise and support in processing the increased numbers.

“Newbury Racecourse will enable us to scale up the operation with the use of their kitchens, chef and staff to meet the demand. It is amazing to see the response of so many businesses, charities and volunteers in our area.”

Chief Executive of Newbury Racecourse, Julian Thick, commented:

“There is a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety around current COVID-19 pandemic. We want to play our part as much as we possibly can for the most vulnerable groups within our local community and have the resource and extensive space here at the racecourse to allow us to assist with a coordinated and safe response to the unprecedented situation we all find ourselves in. 

“Working closely with the team at Age Concern Newbury & District, and Swift Couriers as well as the  West Berkshire CCG, hopefully we can ease some of the pressure on the current services across the borough and provide much larger quantities of meals to the most vulnerable. Huge thanks must go to all my own team, many of whom have volunteered to help with the relief efforts.

Adrian Smith, Group Managing Director for Swift Couriers added:

“These are unprecedented times and therefore we must all pull together to look after those most vulnerable. At Swift Couriers, we are committed to working with all parties to be able to scale-up this operation and provide the relevant expertise and technologies where possible and draw from our greatest asset, our people and look forward to working alongside the team from Age Concern and Newbury Racecourse over the coming weeks.”

For those wishing to support the efforts, the Greenham Trust has also launched a public appeal on its charitable funding platform, The Good Exchange, and pledged to match up to £100,000 of this funding for donations received via the platform.

For every £1 raised, Greenham Trust will match £1 to support local charities that require additional help during these unprecedented times and will go to help those charities and volunteer organisations supporting those most urgently in need.

To donate money or apply for a grant, visit The Good Exchange https://app.thegoodexchange.com/project/17994/greenham-trust/greenham-trust-coronavirus-emergency-appeal.

Greenham Trust is working alongside many local organisations including West Berkshire Council, Newbury Soup Kitchen, Citizens Advice West Berkshire, Age Concern Newbury & District, Volunteer Centre West Berkshire, Community Furniture Project, Healthwatch West Berkshire to support vulnerable and elderly people.

For further information on West Berkshire’s response to the coronavirus, please visit https://info.westberks.gov.uk/coronavirus-communityhub

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