22 jobs lost as Croydon axes Meals on Wheels ‘by stealth’

CROYDON IN CRISIS: The cash-strapped council’s cuts are now hitting the elderly, the frail and the house-bound. EXCLUSIVE By STEVEN DOWNES

Food for thought: Croydon Council kept mention of the Meals on Wheels service being axed very quiet

Foodbanks, lunch clubs and charities across the borough, already hard-pressed by rising demand for their help, are furious with Croydon Council after it sneaked out the news that it is to axe its Meals on Wheels service at the end of this month.

The council is “operating by stealth” over the service closure, according to the co-ordinator of one of the borough’s voluntary groups.

“We have had to hear the news from our distressed and worried, frail elderly clients,” they told Inside Croydon.

The Meals on Wheels service, and the dozens of elderly and housebound residents it served, is just the latest casualty of the Labour-run council’s bankruptcy.

The matter has not been announced in any official council press release, nor has it been anything that has been highlighted at recent Town Hall meetings. Inside Croydon understands that Apetito, the company that has been delivering meals to the borough’s elderly for 14 years, was advised of the council’s decision in early February.

Passing the buck: the council has effectively outsourced its responsibilities to the elderly and is trying to steer people towards already stretched charities

Apetito, with its head office in Trowbridge, also operates the Wiltshire Farm Foods brand, a meals delivery service for private customers established more than 30 years ago. They provide a wide range of catering services to local authorities, hospitals, care homes and schools which they say, “play a key role in helping society’s most vulnerable people get the nutrition they need”.

Apetito say that they can’t keep their Croydon depot on the Brookmead Industrial Estate operating, even for private clients who pay for the deliveries themselves, because losing the council contract means they are not in a position to offer the local service.

At least 22 of Apetito’s staff are losing their jobs as a consequence of Croydon Council’s decision, while the company is also having to re-arrange its Meals on Wheels services in Bromley, Bexley and Richmond, which previously operated out of the Croydon depot. Six further staff are being re-deployed, according to the company.

Today, on the council website’s Meals on Wheels page, a note states, “After much consideration, the council has decided to not renew the contract with Apetito for the Meals on Wheels service. We have written to all our residents who currently receive Meals on Wheels from Apetito.

“The numbers of people using this service have steadily fallen over recent years and the council must consider which services it can continue to subsidise.

“You will still be able to order and receive meals from Apetito up to and including Saturday 30 April 2022.”

Accompanying the council’s statement was an online form, offering a list of supermarkets that provide food deliveries. The form also lists some of the borough’s voluntary food hubs and charities.

But according to one volunteer group, the council has put out this information without bothering to advise all the affected organisations.

Parked: Apetito say they have to close their Croydon depot

One of the voluntary organisations affected by the axing of Meals on Wheels is Shirley Neighbourhood Care, a group that already has around 200 elderly and vulnerable people among those it visits and tries to help.

SNC’s Suzy Stoyel told Inside Croydon, “As one of the organisations mentioned in the list of alternatives – we run a lunch club – it would have been helpful to have been at least forewarned about this decision.

“The service stops on April 30. Not much time to organise alternatives – particularly with a four-day weekend in the middle,” Stoyel said.

“Meals on Wheels is a service used by the most vulnerable, lonely, frail, housebound elders, many of whom are unable to use social media and are trapped in their homes.

“Meals on wheels not only provides a hot meal but a pair of eyeballs going in and making sure that elderly person has not fallen over or is unwell. They may be the only person to see that frail person each day. Croydon Council’s Adult Social Services team have long used this service exactly for that purpose – a daily check on a vulnerable elder.”

A spokesperson for Apetito told Inside Croydon, “It is with enormous regret that following the Croydon Council’s decision to cease its Meals on Wheels contract with us and despite exhausting all available options, our hot meals service will be coming to an end at the end of this month.

“We have concluded a consultation period with our 28 members of staff and will be redeploying six members of our team across our business. All customers and staff have been notified of these outcomes.

“Our thoughts are all with those employees and customers who have been impacted as a result of the council’s decision.”

Become a Patron!


About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Adult Social Care, Business, Charity, Community associations, Croydon Council, Meals on Wheels and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to 22 jobs lost as Croydon axes Meals on Wheels ‘by stealth’

  1. Kevin Croucher says:

    Do you suppose that the councillors and officials who enjoyed inflating their egos by playing at wheeler dealer property development will ever realise that their games have real consequences for real people? I doubt it.

  2. In the 1960s during my school holidays I used to volunteer for the Croydon Meals on Wheels service. I would go to Fairfield Halls kitchen, meet a regular volunteer who drove a heated van and run up and down stairs and in and out of houses delivering hot meals to disabled and elderly people around Selsdon and New Addington. I enjoyed meeting the customers, and they liked to see a new young face. What went wrong?

    • Gavin Palmer says:

      Dear Diana Please make up a plan and how it worked etc something sensible to revive. Penny wise pound foolish
      Thank you Gavin

  3. Lewis White says:

    I am lost for words.

  4. Makes me ashamed to be human, it really does.

  5. Ian Kierans says:

    It could reasonably be argued that we are a little bit culpable as voters for this despicable act of inhumanity and cavalier disregard for the most extremely vulnerable members of our Borough. We after all voted in those people from both parties who wasted money and caused this situation.
    BUT
    whereas we may have been misled by their promises and dodgy actions and should take more care over what person or party lackey we put our tick against, I very much doubt any politician removing meals from infirm and elderly vulnerable people would get a single vote!

    YES
    there may be sound financial reasons for removing the contract as it was not meeting the requirements. In this instance alternative provision should have been looked at along with continuity of service to those still in need of the service.
    INSTEAD
    this Council appears once again to be operating as a hidden dictatorship and knowingly penalising those disabled, vulnerable, critically ill, infirm and elderly and extremely disadvantaged people within our Borough.
    SO NO
    regretfully this decision was taken EITHER knowing the full impact of that decision on those people by Council officials employed by Croydon Council and signed of by the Executive and without any whimper from the Conservative appointed ”Advisors”OR because they could not care less who or what impact their actions have as they have no regard for their social duty or duty of care as Local officers . Like many actions of late they were not opened to ”scrutiny” at the Council and apparently hidden by those taking the decision from the Public.

    Every single Mayoral candidate should today put out a strong message to this sordid body that this action is callous and unbecoming of a local authority.
    Every Single Councillor should email this Sordid Executive and ask for this action to be suspended and delayed pending a full meeting.

    The people involved in this decision should be called into the Council Chamber and asked to explain what was going through their heads to take this action and justify it.

    Let us clearly hear exactly what priorities this Council has over apparently starving elderly and infirm individuals.

    And then let us vote next month to change the Culture of Inhumanity and work together to get alternatives to these despicable decisions.

    Helen is quite right – very sorry specimens of humanity. I will email my Councillors today

  6. Ian Kierans says:

    It could reasonably be argued that we are a little bit culpable as voters for this despicable act of inhumanity and cavalier disregard for the most extremely vulnerable members of our Borough. We after all voted in those people from both parties who wasted money and caused this situation.
    BUT
    whereas we may have been misled by their promises and dodgy actions and should take more care over what person or party lackey we put our tick against, I very much doubt any politician removing meals from infirm and elderly vulnerable people would get a single vote!

    YES
    there may be sound financial reasons for removing the contract as it was not meeting the requirements. In this instance alternative provision should have been looked at along with continuity of service to those still in need of the service.
    INSTEAD
    this Council appears once again to be operating as a hidden dictatorship and knowingly penalising those disabled, vulnerable, critically ill, infirm and elderly and extremely disadvantaged people within our Borough.
    SO NO
    regretfully this decision was taken EITHER knowing the full impact of that decision on those people by Council officials employed by Croydon Council and signed of by the Executive and without any whimper from the Conservative appointed ”Advisors”OR because they could not care less who or what impact their actions have as they have no regard for their social duty or duty of care as Local officers . Like many actions of late they were not opened to ”scrutiny” at the Council and apparently hidden by those taking the decision from the Public.

    Every single Mayoral candidate should today put out a strong message to this sordid body that this action is callous and unbecoming of a local authority.
    Every Single Councillor should email this Sordid Executive and ask for this action to be suspended and delayed pending a full meeting.

    The people involved in this decision should be called into the Council Chamber and asked to explain what was going through their heads to take this action and justify it.

    Let us clearly hear exactly what priorities this Council has over apparently starving elderly and infirm individuals.

    And then let us vote next month to change the Culture of Inhumanity and work together to get alternatives to these despicable decisions.

    Helen is quite right – very sorry specimens of humanity. I will email my Councillors today

Leave a Reply