End of the road for OAP lifeline in Budleigh Salterton?

PUBLISHED: 11:00 17 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:00 17 July 2017

Allan Cooper (second from the right) at a volunteer drive event at Bowmers Restaurant, Budleigh Salterton Ref exb 2175-39-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Allan Cooper (second from the right) at a volunteer drive event at Bowmers Restaurant, Budleigh Salterton Ref exb 2175-39-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Archant

The expected opening of the Budleigh Salterton Health and Wellbeing Hub has highlighted the need for more drivers to give up their time.

A voluntary car scheme in Budleigh Salterton could end if more drivers are not found to give their time to the cause.

The impending opening of Budleigh’s new health and wellbeing hub later this year has highlighted the need for more drivers to help transport elderly residents to medical appointments and weekly shopping trips.

Currently, Budleigh Salterton Voluntary Car Scheme has 10 drivers but concerns have been raised that up to six of them could retire in the next 12 months.

With the hub due to open in September, demand for the service is expected to increase and scheme chairman Allan Cooper is concerned that the stress put on the service by the extra demand could ‘kill’ it.

He said: “We’re anticipating there being a lot of pressure on us. We will take it as it comes and see how it plays out.

“At the moment we need one or two more but we anticipate that six of our drivers will be retiring soon.

“If the hub takes off it means we will have more journeys to make. I don’t think the amount of trips we do could go up much more – we run at a peak demand all the time.

“If demand goes up by more than five or 10 per cent it could kill us (the scheme).”

Budleigh Voluntary Car scheme celebrates 24 years of service this year and is launching a campaign to recruit younger drivers.

Allan added that they are ideally looking for drivers in their ‘late fifties and early sixties’.

In 12 months up to June 15 this year, there have been 1,767 passengers travelling on a total of 3,154 journeys covering more than 19,000 miles.

More than 200 journeys have been to the Budleigh Medical Centre, 366 to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and 640 to Age Concern, in Station Road.

There were also 610 social journeys, some of which are weekly shopping journeys to Tesco, in Exmouth.

There have also been 58 incidents of not having drivers available to provide transport.

Anyone who can give their time is asked to call Allan on 01395 443995.

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