VOLUNTEER cyclists are distributing 1,500 hot meals to vulnerable people in and around the city every week.

The initiative to get hot food to those who need it most was lead by local community food project FirstBite, using supplies of surplus food from FareShare UK, Tesco Extra Winnall and donating this to Red Radish, a local catering company that provides thousands of meals every day for regional NHS hospitals and charities caring for the homeless.

“The cyclists have stepped up to this challenge with enormous commitment,” said Alex Perrin, volunteer cyclist and coordinator.

“Using donated UberEats insulated backpacks, they know the city streets and short-cuts, getting dinner on the table within minutes of it arriving in Winchester in the Red Radish van.”

Winchester cyclists – and a few car drivers - have been working seven evenings a week during the lockdown from Winchester Lido to collect and distribute meals to vulnerable people, some of whom only get to see the delivery cyclist.

One local resident said: “I am bed bound and suffer with severe fatigue and mental health problems. I just want to say thank you for the hot meal delivery, I can’t express how much gratitude I have for you as this helps me in so many ways and the food is fantastic too, much love, Ash.”

The meat and vegetarian meals are made by Red Radish, who have extended their Steventon-based, award-winning catering operation to provide thousands of meals, 24/7, to community projects and charities such as FirstBite, the Salvation Army and Live at Home which coordinate to make sure the city’s most vulnerable residents get a healthy hot meal every day, come rain or shine while the lockdown is in place.