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Slow start to South Shields meals on wheels plan

Frankies Diner's Karen Kane and Stuart Urwin
Frankies Diner's Karen Kane and Stuart Urwin

The man behind a new meals on wheels service in South Tyneside says it has all the ingredients for success – apart from customers.

Stuart Urwin, 59, says he has been inundated with interest since the project’s recent launch, with thousands of social media ‘hits’.

But the one thing missing is confirmed bookings from those who have been in touch but not left their contact details.

He is now appealing for them to phone or email him – or contact him via Facebook – with names and phone numbers so he can start delivering.

Mr Urwin plans to operate the scheme on a one-day-a-week trial basis, with a view to running every weekday within a year.

Among those to have shown early interest is a Gateshead housing association.

He said: “We have had a tremendous response from people who have heard about the service and think it a great idea.

“The one thing people are not doing is leaving their contact details so that we can call them back and get them started.

“If we are to be successful then they must get those details to us as soon as possible. We are ready and waiting.”

Mr Urwin added: “The service is aimed at elderly people, the disabled and those who are vulnerable, and we need them to get in touch.

“If they can’t do it themselves, and a possibly a lot of them can’t, then their carers or relatives can do it for them.

“If we have a contact number and an address, then we can make all the arrangements we need to.”

The project is being operated by South Tyneside Community Laundry (STCL), of which Mr Unwin is proprietor.

STCL, a community interest company, has run a non-profit clothes cleaning service from its Hebburn headquarters for nine years.

It has secured funding to buy hot plates on which the meals will be delivered from Unltd.org, which supports social entrepreneurs.

People who sign up will get a hot meal brought to their homes at lunchtime and their plate collected when they have finished.

The scheme is being operated in partnership with Frankies Diner, in Ocean Road, South Shields, from where meals will be freshly prepared and despatched.

A daily meal, including delivery, is expected to cost about £5.50.

Mr Urwin hopes a number of volunteers will be required to help operate the project, should it take off.

The organisation’s laundry service has around 400 regular users who benefit from having their clothes collected, cleaned and returned.

Operated in partnership with South Tyneside Council, it has capacity to support 1,000 people and is also looking to expand take up.

Mr Urwin can be contacted about either service by phoning 0191 489 1701, by emailing contact@stclaundry.com or by finding STCL on Facebook.