'Home Comforts' - new initiative helping vulnerable South Tyneside residents put healthy meals on the table

A community project is helping vulnerable residents have access to healthy meals by delivering them straight to their door.

Friday, 16th August 2019, 12:08 pm
Updated Friday, 16th August 2019, 3:55 pm
Fit Belli Deli's Donna Kerr-Foley with the new range of Home Comforts food.
Fit Belli Deli's Donna Kerr-Foley with the new range of Home Comforts food.

The initiative has been developed by the women behind the Fit Belli Deli in Westoe Crown village, South Shields, which aims to provide nutritious food to help people lead a healthy lifestyle.

Their ‘Home Comforts’ range was inspired by a need in the community for older, less mobile residents, and those who are cared for or live alone, to have access to healthy and affordable meals.

“When my mum came out of hospital she needed extra support through domiciliary care, but the carers only got 15 minutes to prepare a meal,” explained founder, Karen Wood, from South Shields.

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“The main choices were sandwiches, soup or unhealthy ready meals which were highly processed. Unhealthy alternatives were hard to come by and expensive. There weren’t really any good options.”

Karen continued: “We did a lot of research with care companies and community groups, and one of the needs that came up was older people and those who are more housebound than others.”

“There is definitely a big need, people have said there is nothing else like this.”

The service now delivers fresh, home-cooked meals, twice a week to residents’ homes across South Tyneside.

They can choose as many dishes as they like, from a varied menu, with a plan of six meals costing £24, and all profits going back into the community.

The staff also act as an extra support to vulnerable residents, ensuring they understand and can meet their individual needs.

“There was an issue around people with sight impairments, who were deaf, or couldn’t get to the door,” said Karen. “We want it to be safe for everyone, so all our staff are DBS checked and have the relevant experience, so we can go in and provide everything that they need, such as putting it in the fridge or telling them what’s in their package.”

She added: “From my own experience with my mum, knowing there was an organisation providing a safe service to someone and providing that extra check, would have been really important, so that holistic approach was vital for us to get right.”