Call for Meals on Wheels volunteers

Cleve Meals on Wheels volunteer Carmel Baxter is calling for new community members to sign up after a drop in volunteer numbers.

A SA Health review of volunteer policies has seen changes to the screening process for the Cleve, Cowell and Kimba townships in line with state government policy, prompting many volunteers in Cleve to walk away.

Volunteers need to complete an immunisation screening form, have an up-to-date police check and undergo a mandatory training course before they can deliver pre-prepared food to elderly clients in their town.

Mrs Baxter said she had been volunteering with Meals on Wheels in Cleve for the past eight years, but with numbers dropping off and teams of two required to deliver the food, she was unsure if there would be enough fellow volunteers for her to continue.

She said many of the volunteers were older and not willing to go through the additional red tape after volunteering for a long period of time.

"I'm just really devastated because I love it," she said.

"it's a beautiful thing to do."

Mrs Baxter said a major part of the role was to stop and have a conversation with the people they visit who are often socially isolated, and she was concerned paid staff would not have the time to carry the tradition on if they were solely responsible for delivering the food.

She said she went through the immunisation process to test how complicated it was, and found it a simple process that could be done in town in around fifteen minutes.

"It was the process that put them off but really it's not as daunting as you'd expect."

Acting Regional Community Health Manager Eyre and Far North Region Holly Campbell said Country Health Connect (CHC) would reimburse any costs necessary to obtain the required clearances.

"Our volunteers at CHC are a valuable asset to the community and we appreciate their tireless efforts in supporting our consumers and staff," she said.

"If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please visit your local CHC Community Health office."

Mrs Baxter said she hoped new members of the community would consider stepping up to replace the older volunteers and continue the tradition.

"Where are we without volunteers?" she said.

"It's only an hour and a half out of your day."

Ms Campbell said those considering volunteering for meals on wheels could visit their local CHC Community Health Office.