A PARISH council in north Swindon has been looking after its elderly and vulnerable during lockdown.

Central Swindon North Parish council is providing 90 hot meals a week to those in need after youth worker Aaron Webb saw first-hand the effect of lockdown on the community.

He said: “I was out on the road delivering prescriptions to the elderly and vulnerable and I noticed that a lot of them were on their own and they weren’t receiving proper cooked meals.

“People were not having any cooked food at all and if they were it was just a piece of toast or tinned soup. There was a lot of isolation, hunger and poor mental health, and all as a direct consequence of Covid-19. It was obviously having a massive impact on the community.

“So I put the suggestion to the parish council and we went from there,” he said.

For the past 11 weeks the parish has been working with volunteers from The Olive Tree Café, who usually run The Pinecones Community Café in Pinetrees Community Centre to cook and deliver meals to 45 people each week.

Aaron added: “We supply two courses – a main meal and a desert. We always try and supply one meat and two vegetables type dinner, with a sponge pudding. Then the other can vary from a ploughman’s to a lasagne. Something that is more a comfort type of food.”

The free meals are delivered on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Aaron said: “We put a social media post out to see if people were in need and contacted everyone who would normally come to the lunch club we ran in the community centre.

“We also found local families who were relying on food banks for their meals because they had been furloughed. We’re actually at maximum capacity now due to space in the oven,” he added.

The council has received a £2,500 grant from Swindon and Wiltshire Community foundation which will help them continue the initiative for the next ten weeks.

Council chairman Steve Henderson said: “It’s of great concern that there are people who are that vulnerable in our society, but we are glad to be able to offer some help as and how we can.

“A lot of the people who came to our lunch clubs were affected by lockdown, either because they were shielding or in quarantine, so we wanted to make sure there was some kind of appropriate contact and that they carried on receiving food.

“The parish council has the kind of ethos that says society is a lot better when everyone works together,” he said.

“We’ve had such a great response from people,” added Aaron.

“It’s great when you’re able to see the difference this is making to people, because it was my initiative.

“Just to know there are people out there who are better off now, who were potentially receiving nothing,” he said.