Somerset’s fantastic team of volunteer drivers have been thanked at two annual celebration events this month.
Nearly 200 dedicated drivers volunteer for Somerset County Council, providing transport for eligible non-emergency NHS patients and social care users, ranging from the elderly to young children.
Passengers describe the drivers as ‘lifesavers’ and a ‘godsend’ and this month they have been thanked by the County Council and the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) at events in Taunton and Yeovil.
The drivers were awarded with a certificate to thank them for their dedication over the last year and they were treated to delicious cakes kindly donated by Country Catering.
Cllr John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “Our volunteer drivers really do make a difference to people’s lives. They are the unsung heroes of our community. They give up their time to help all kinds of people who are eligible for a lift, whether that’s taking a cancer patient to chemotherapy or dropping a child in care off at a contact visit with a family member.
“It was a pleasure to meet the drivers and personally thank them for their hard work and commitment to support people in need. The time they give up is much appreciated and it does make a tremendous amount of difference in communities across Somerset.
“We need more volunteer drivers to join the team and I encourage anyone who is interested to get in touch to find out more.”
Cecily Porritt is a volunteer driver and her husband Bill is a Personal Assistant, who supports children on their journey’s when needed. They attended the event in Taunton, Cecily said: “It is lovely to be thanked for the support we provide. I really enjoy being a volunteer driver. The people we meet are really nice and they are always very grateful for the help.”
Peter Gaylard is a volunteer driver who attended the Yeovil event, he said: “I enjoy volunteering. It is good to help people and it’s good for me too. I get to meet lots of different people on my travels. Events like this are great. It is nice to get a thank you and it is good to meet other drivers and the transport team.”
The ageing population in Somerset means demand for transport is growing and more volunteer drivers are needed. If people have a few hours to spare and enjoy driving and helping people, please get in touch.
Successful recruits can claim back up to 50p per mile for expenses. Volunteer driving is a rewarding opportunity to get out and about, meet new people and provide a vital community service.
Anyone can be a volunteer driver – the only criteria is that you must be over 18, have use of your own four-door vehicle, hold a full UK driving licence and be able to commit at least one day a week to volunteering.
Personal assistants are also needed. They escort the children with the volunteer driver when needed to provide extra support.
To find out more about becoming a volunteer driver or personal assistant, please contact CSW by calling 01278 664180, or visit www.somerset.gov.uk/volunteering.