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It’s almost 12pm and Neville Healey is waiting near his front door. He knows it’s time for his daily Red Cross visit.
Jenny, New Zealand Red Cross’ Meals on Wheels driver, has arrived on time and with a smile.
“Knock, knock. It’s Red Cross Meals on Wheels,” says Jenny as she stands just outside Neville’s entrance door.
Neville invites Jenny in and thanks her for delivering his meal today.
Neville has been receiving Meals on Wheels for over a year. Concerned that he wasn’t eating enough, Neville’s doctor advised him to avail of this service.
“My doctor said: ‘You’re not eating enough. You need a good meal every day. Do you know Meals on Wheels?’,” shares Neville.
As a previous Red Cross Meals on Wheels volunteer, Neville was already very familiar with the service.
“When my wife was sick, looking after her was a full-time job. Then, she passed away and I didn’t know what to do with my time, so I started delivering Meals on Wheels,” explains Neville.
“I didn’t know what was in the meals, I always wondered, but now I know!”
Meals on Wheels is one of our longest standing and most recognised community programmes – and one that is much appreciated by its recipients. More than just a carrier of hot meals, we deliver independence to many elderly and disabled people and those recovering from illness or hospital treatment.
Most importantly, the service provides much needed regular social contact for people like Neville.
“The volunteers are good. There’s always something to talk about. And you know, sometimes, the volunteers are the only people I see all day,” says Neville.
It hasn’t been easy for Neville. He used to be very independent – he used to shop, drive and cook for himself, but one day, he had a heart attack, so he was unable to drive a car. He then started to ride his bicycle to get around, but sadly, that isn’t an option anymore for Neville.
“I can’t sit on my bike anymore, it’s too painful. So, I’m very grateful to have Red Cross deliver the meals,” says Neville.
New Zealand Red Cross Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver around 620,000 hot meals a year - that's nearly 12,000 every week. We’re always looking for more people to join our pool of drivers. Volunteers need to be available on weekdays at around lunchtime (we don't deliver on weekends or in the evenings). Volunteers also need their own vehicle.