VOLUNTEERS delivering meals to vulnerable people in the Winchester district have been disappointed by a lack of action from the city council.

When lockdown hit those in the area who usually receive food from charities were suddenly left without that much-needed provision.

Debbie Lockett, who runs FirstBite Community Food Project, was contacted by Red Radish – a Hampshire-based backstage catering company – to fill the gap in provision.

Since then around 30 cyclists have offered their support to deliver meals to around 100 people each night, and at its peak was supplying 1,500 meals a week, but the provision is about to end.

At the end of May the Salvation Army stopped providing a list of those in need and the volunteers reached out to Winchester City Council (WCC) for support.

One of the co-ordinators Martin Wilson said that 14 councillors came along one evening to see what the project does and asked the council to provide a list of vulnerable people that might be in need of the meal delivery.

However, weeks after the visit the volunteers have not had a response from the authority and with no one to help the project has been forced to close after 93 nights on Saturday.

“WCC could have stepped up to the plate and could have sorted out who these vulnerable were as most live in their properties.

“It is disappointing that these people have seemingly slipped through the net.”

Martin, who is also one of the volunteer cyclists, continued: “I am pretty sad about it; I have met a lot of these people and to say that the challenge has gone away is wide of the mark.

“I am sad and disappointed for these individuals that won’t have that. It was taking a bit of pressure from their daily struggles.

“The riders as we see it today are probably the only social contact they would have a day.”

Red Radish is also returning to its usual work, but Martin has said that there are a number of organisations that would be able to step in.

The project has been deemed a “fantastic initiative”, with all those involved benefitting whether that be delivering meals or being one of those provided with the food.

Debbie said: “Its been an incredible community voluntary effort, everyone has pulled together to make this happen. People have been so grateful to get a meal – some of them every evening.”

In response, a spokesperson for Winchester City Council, said: “We have been really pleased to work with the local community sector in partnership with Red Radish, FirstBite and a fantastic team of volunteers to provide hot meals to local residents for the last two months. This specific scheme is coming to an end as Red Radish return to their normal business. 

“Local residents who received hot meals have been contacted and alternative arrangements have been put in place for those who continue to need this support.”