December 9 2013 Latest news:
Monday, September 23, 2013
A vital lifeline for some of Budleigh’s most vulnerable residents could be forced to close within 18 months if it doesn’t find new volunteers.
That’s the stark warning from the Budleigh Salterton and District Voluntary Car Scheme, which says its shortage of drivers, which has been a problem for some time, is now becoming critical.
Scheme co-ordinator John Jarvis said: “The situation is getting grave from an ability to carry on.
“The foreseeable likelihood, without another couple of drivers, is that the scheme will fold in 18 months – that’s the way I see it.”
The scheme’s volunteers, who covered more than 37,000 miles in the last year, drive people on a range of trips, including to hospitals, dentists, doctors’ surgeries and opticians, and occasional social trips for those in need.
John says that his drivers are highly committed, but without new volunteers the scheme will be in trouble as time catches up with them, with many expected to retire soon.
“We’ve got an extraordinarily good set of drivers – I’m forever saying ‘could you do this and this as well’.
“I push on the goodwill of my team far too much.
“We recruited one driver this year and one last year, but one died and the majority of people are rapidly approaching 80.
“There are times I feel the passengers are fitter than my drivers.”
Budleigh town councillor Lynda Evans, who represents the council on the group’s committee, said: “People in the surrounding villages would be lost without it.
“They just wouldn’t be able to go out and do ordinary things we all take for granted.
“I take for granted that I can walk down to the High Street and get my hair done, but for someone on a walking frame, but not totally immobile, they have difficulty getting from East Budleigh, Otterton, or the outskirts of Budleigh, to go into the town.”
“If it goes it will affect people considerably.”
Budleigh Salterton Age Concern day centre manager Sian Bannister said: “It would be quite devastating.
“The voluntary car service brings our clients in to use our services, so without them they wouldn’t be able to get to us.
“We heavily rely on them.”
Driving for the group is voluntary, but there is a mileage allowance available.
For more information, call John on 01395 445664.