A MALMESBURY charity funded by a coronavirus appeal grant has celebrated delivering its 4,000th meal since the start of the pandemic.

Heals has been awarded £10,000 from the Wiltshire Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Response Fund, which has so far distributed almost £700,000 to more than 170 groups.

Heals chairman of trustees Gavin Grant said the charity, based in the High Street, has been working flat out to support the town with hot meals, shopping errands, prescription deliveries, activities for young people, befriending phone calls, debt advice and supplying laptops for low income families.

The group has been delivering hot meals twice a week to older people who have been shielding and to low income families throughout the pandemic.

Trustee Karen Franklin said at its height, there were 120 meals going out on a Wednesday and Friday.

“Now we are down to around 60, there is pizza on Wednesday and fish and chips on Friday. The people who get them, love them,” she said.

Mr Grant said: “The meals have been a big challenge. Owners Dave and Nicola Moody at The Red Bull have been providing them at cost price, they have been absolutely fantastic. Our foodbank has not been overwhelmed and I think that is in part to do with the meals. It has allowed the foodbank to work on a broader basis covering places like Royal Wootton Bassett and Cricklade."

The group is also helping many families struggling with high utility bills and rent arrears by negotiating with companies and landlords and has bought toys and activity packs to entertain youngsters over the summer. It is also organising virtual and actual summer family activities.

Mr Grant added: “The grant support has been absolutely vital. Heals would not be in existence without the aid of the Wiltshire Community Foundation and therefore this work would not be happening.”

“One of my big worries right at the beginning was not only how are we going to respond but actually will Heals survive. They have been a huge support.”

Fiona Oliver, the community foundation’s interim co-chief executive, said: “The story of brilliant community groups suffering a devastating drop in income at exactly the time they are being asked to meet rising demand for their help is one we’ve heard right across the county.

"We are so pleased to be able to fund this kind of work and to see it having such a dynamic impact on people.”

To donate to the Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response Fund or to find out how to apply for a grant, go to wiltshirecf.org.uk.