A VITAL service which provides a lifeline to local residents has tripled in size since it was introduced four years ago.

The Meal on Wheels service allows Barrow's elderly and most isolated people to continue living independently with its volunteers delivering not only hearty meals three times a day but also providing company and support.

The service, which is run by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), was started in April 2014 with 23 clients on the books growing to an impressive 50 to 66 clients per day.

There are two volunteers per route, each day, who dedicate up to three hours a day to deliver meals over a 46-mile radius covering the Barrow area. The area includes North Scale, Holbeck, Roose and other surrounding areas.

Charles Elliott, of Barrow, has volunteered for the hospital-led service for the past four years and volunteered for the service for 16 years when it was run by Cumbria County Council.

"I really enjoy volunteering for the service and meeting all of the different customers every day," he said.

"I think the service is vital for local people and I would encourage anyone thinking about volunteering to give it a try – it is very rewarding."

Harry Clarke from of Barrow has received Meals on Wheels for the past few months.

He said: "The service is very good and the volunteers are all lovely – they are very good company. I can't praise the food highly enough – my favourite dishes so far have been the roast dinners and toad in the hole."

A team of six catering staff at Furness General Hospital devote two to three hours a day to make the lunches, using freshly sourced products from local suppliers. Dishes include meat and potato pie, Cumberland sausage with creamed potatoes and roast dinner. They also offer specialist diets for people who are gluten free, require a soft consistency diet or a puree diet.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact catering manager Tracy Litt by emailing Tracy.Litt@mbht.nhs.uk or calling 01229 491001.