Budleigh car service forced to turn people away due to lack of on call drivers

The manager of TRIP Community Transport, Neil Hurlock. Picture: Archant

The manager of TRIP Community Transport, Neil Hurlock. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A voluntary car service in Budleigh is being forced to turn away isolated people in need because it has not got enough drivers on its books.

Budleigh Salterton and District Voluntary Car Scheme, which operates under community transport charity TRIP, is currently facing a shortage of drivers who have flexible timetables.

Despite having as many as 12 drivers helping, TRIP manager Neil Hurlock said most are only available ‘on occasion’ and prefer rigid timetables to give up their time. Mr Hurlock said while the charity appreciates all the help it gets, it is facing an ‘urgent need’ to recruit more drivers who can up their time willingly – young blood in particular.

He added: “The car service has been running for years, and we very much appreciate the work that existing volunteers have put in over the years.

“However, we urgently need to recruit more drivers who have time available to help people attend important meetings, such as medical appointments.

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“This is a thing that could suit young people with children, who are still looking for something to do in their free time.

“It does not have to be a major time commitment.”

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Mr Hurlock said the service is already operating in a strenuous environment where people are relying more on its voluntary drivers, and less on public service.

He added: “We have had several cases where we have not had drivers available, so we have had to let people down

“No-one likes doing that – we want to get people to these appointments.

“It is important for their health and missed appointments costs the NHS a fortune.

“These voluntary drivers are absolutely crucial.

“For some people, there is no public transport and for others, they are just not up for the length of time it would take to get on three busses to get to their appointment.

“We are dealing with the best of what we have but if there is public transport cutbacks, there is going to be more and more loads going onto our existing drivers.

“This could have a detrimental effect on them.”

The service is looking for at least four more drivers to volunteer their time.

To assist, call TRIP on 01404 46529.

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