Appeal for community drivers
IF you have a car and have a little spare time, then you could make a difference to people in the north of the Cotswolds who are struggling to get out.
A community transport charity is hoping to recruit more volunteer drivers to transport people to and from appointments or shopping trips where public transport is not an option.
The Cotswold Volunteer North Community Transport Service has been running fore more than 30 years, but most of the volunteer drivers are based towards the south of the district.
“In the last 12 months the service has driven over 860 people, who live in the north Cotswolds, over 68,000 miles to their doctor and hospital appointments in and outside the county, to get their weekly shopping and see family and friends, attend social clubs and day centres. Unfortunately, nearly a third of these miles have been travelled by drivers from other areas, to pick people up before their journey has started,” explained Beth Johnson, the charity’s Chief Executive Officer.
Jenny Smith, a volunteer driver of more than 15 years from Lower Slaughter, said it wasn’t a problem picking people up from further afield, but the distance to get to them were classed as “dead” miles and the customer had to pay for them.
The areas where volunteers are most needed are places like Broad Campden, Chipping Campden, Ebrington, Charingworth, the Hidcotes, Mickleton, Paxford, Weston and Aston-sub-Edge or Willersey and nearby.
The people the charity drives are unable to use public transport due to lack of availability or poor mobility and frail health, or in some cases their local community transport service does not cover the area they wish to travel to, such as a hospital visit in Cheltenham or Gloucester.
Mrs Smith said it was also beneficial to the volunteers. “I am retired and widowed so it is a life-line to me too. I enjoy meeting people and taking them to different places and I know they appreciate it” she said.
Ron Caswell, from Chipping Campden, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday, said he relied on the scheme to get to appointments at hospitals in Cheltenham, Warwickshire and Gloucester. “I wouldn’t manage without the service because there’s no one I can call on to take me,” he said.
Drivers will receive 50p per mile and additional payments for long waits and parking charges. The charity will provide information, support and training and will pay for any additional insurance costs for using their car for voluntary purposes.
For details about volunteering email [email protected] or ring 01608 651415.