Much-Needed Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle for the North Cotswolds

by Joanna Hammond

Much-Needed Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle for the North Cotswolds

With the help of a generous grant from the Weston Anniversary Fund, Cotswold Friends is delighted to announce the addition of a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle, (named Weston of course!), to its Community Transport Service.

The Volkswagen Caddy has been specially adapted to carry a person whilst seated in a wheelchair, meaning that transfer from wheelchair to car and back again is no longer needed. A wheelchair can be provided if required. The vehicle can carry three additional passengers and also features an adapted front passenger seat which swivels, allowing people with limited mobility to get in and out more easily. Julie Mitchell, Community Transport Manager, believes this new service is much-needed and said, “We are really excited about the opportunity to reach wheelchair users in the North Cotswolds who have been unable to access safe, reliable transport and may have become isolated as a result. With our new vehicle, Members no longer need to struggle to transfer from a wheelchair into a car but can be safely transported in their wheelchair, accessing the vehicle via a ramp. We have two drivers operating the new service, both fully trained members of staff. I am sure that the freedom and independence this service offers will prove a wonderful support to our community”

Margaret Clayton has recently tested out the new vehicle. After suffering a stroke last year Margaret is currently a wheelchair user and explains, “I have very good friends who will take me out, but I have to transfer from the wheelchair to the seat and then they have to fold the wheelchair up and put it in the boot, all of which is very difficult, whereas with the new vehicle you can just push me straight onto it. Three friends can come with me and we can go out for an afternoon. I will go out much more because it is easy to get into the vehicle and easy to get out, whereas it takes at least ten minutes for me to transfer. It was very good indeed, very comfortable and you can easily speak to the people in front of you. It’s splendid altogether – I think it’s a wonderful addition to the facilities that Cotswold Friends’ supply.”

Cotswold Friends has worked hard to make the new service as cost effective as possible and as such the journey costs will be £1.00 per mile for passengers travelling alone, with the cost going down to 50p per person per mile, whenever multiple passengers travel together. For individuals, groups or organisations wishing to use the vehicle throughout the day, a daily charge may apply. The pricing structure compares favourably to the cost of a taxi and a wheelchair user can travel with a friend or carer for the same price as travelling alone. Amanda Howard, CEO at Cotswold Friends said, “I am so pleased that we can provide this vital new service. If you, your friends and family or an organisation you belong to could benefit from our new vehicle please do get in touch.”

To book ‘Weston’ or for further information please contact: Cotswold Friends Community Transport Service Tel: 01608 651115 Email: transport@cotswoldfriends.org

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