A transport service for vulnerable children and adults described by its users as a ‘lifesaver’ and a ‘godsend’ is appealing for more volunteer drivers.
Somerset County Council currently provides transport for eligible non-emergency NHS patients and social care users, ranging from the elderly to young children. This includes trips to hospital for medical appointments, or transport to day centres.
A dedicated army of nearly 200 fantastic drivers across the county currently act as volunteers, but the ageing population in Somerset means demand for transport is growing and more volunteers are needed.
Cllr David Fothergill, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “You only have to look at feedback from the annual survey of passengers to see how highly regarded our volunteer drivers are.
“These often unsung heroes really make a difference to people’s lives, so I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly thank them all for their efforts.
“With demand for this service increasing, we need to attract new drivers – from all parts of Somerset. It’s a great opportunity to help others, meet new people, improve your CV and provide a vital lifeline in your community.
“Volunteer drivers come from all walks of life – male, female, old, young, working, retired – we even have a few couples who travel together. If you have a few hours to spare and enjoy driving and helping people, please get in touch.”
Anyone can be a volunteer – the only criteria is that drivers must be over 18, have use of their own four-door vehicle, and hold a full UK driving licence with no more than six points. Mileage expenses will be reimbursed at up to 50p per mile.
Below are some of the comments from service users taken from the 2014 annual survey:
“I am 85 years old and nearly blind, but I count my blessings for the service you give me. To all that are part of this service, my very sincere thank you!”
“I think this is a marvellous service. There is no doubt I could not get to my many appointments without it. Therefore I can even say it is a life-saver! Thank you so much.”
“This wonderful service has been a godsend to me, I’d like to thank the Transporting Somerset team very much for this.”
“Your drivers have all been wonderful – friendly, helpful and considerate. I really could not manage without the service you provide. My thanks to you all.”
For more information about volunteer driving, please contact Somerset You Can Do by phoning 01278 664180. More information about volunteering opportunities with Somerset County Council can be found at www.somerset.gov.uk/volunteering.