While most people look forward to some welcome time off over the Christmas period, Somerset’s army of volunteer drivers will remain on duty to help vulnerable people access vital services.
Somerset County Council’s fantastic volunteer drivers provide transport for eligible non-emergency NHS patients and social care users.
Many of these services will still be needed over Christmas, including on Bank Holidays. For example, it is expected that at least 130 renal patients and 50 social care users will require transport on Boxing Day.
And while there are no medical appointments on Christmas Day, transport could still be required so children in social care can visit family members.
A handful of drivers have made themselves available if needed on the 25th, and many more have offered their services on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and throughout the Christmas period. This includes drivers from Taunton, Yeovil, Bridgwater, Chard, Radstock, Watchet, Street, Glastonbury – from all over Somerset.
Cllr David Fothergill, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “It takes a very special sort of person to give up their own time over Christmas – but then that’s exactly what our volunteer drivers are.
“They selflessly give up their time to provide a vital lifeline all through the year, helping others whenever they are needed.
“On behalf of all the service users who value them so much, I’d like to say thank you and also wish them all a very happy Christmas.”
The ageing population in Somerset means demand for transport is growing and more volunteers are needed in all parts of the county – although Christmas working is completely optional!
Volunteer drivers can claim back up to 50p per mile for expenses and hours are flexible.
Cllr Fothergill added: “The fact that so many drivers are willing to give up their own Christmases to help others demonstrates just what a rewarding experience volunteer driving is.
“And don’t worry if you don’t fancy giving up your Christmas. Hours are flexible and drivers can fit in volunteering around their existing commitments. Please give us a call to discuss how it could work for you.”
Anyone can be a volunteer driver – the only criteria is that you must be over 18, have use of your own four-door vehicle, and hold a full UK driving licence with no more than six points.
To find out more, please contact Somerset You Can Do by calling 01278 664180, or visit www.somerset.gov.uk/volunteering.