Shortage of drivers at Budleigh Voluntary Car Scheme leaves OAPs in Budleigh without transport

PUBLISHED: 08:00 06 July 2018

Allan Cooper, Budleigh Salterton and District Voluntary Car Scheme

Allan Cooper, Budleigh Salterton and District Voluntary Car Scheme

Contributed

Urgent appeal for new volunteer drivers at community transport service which helps OAPs in Budleigh

Allan Cooper, chairman, Budleigh Salterton and District Voluntary Car SchemeAllan Cooper, chairman, Budleigh Salterton and District Voluntary Car Scheme

Elderly people with mobility problems in Budleigh are being forced to miss out on shopping trips and social occasions, because of a severe shortage of volunteer drivers.

The Budleigh Salterton and District Voluntary Car Scheme is having to prioritise journeys to hospitals and GP practices, otherwise patients could be forced to miss important health appointments.

It is coordinated by the community transport association TRIP, whose manager Neil Hurlock explained that the problem has arisen because some of the volunteers have developed health problems themselves, and others can no longer spare the time. In Honiton, where TRIP is based, one patient had to miss an oncology appointment recently because no driver was available. In Budleigh, many of the existing volunteers can only manage a few hours a week, meaning that on some days there are no drivers at all.

“In Budleigh we’re really short-handed,” he said. “One of our drivers did four journeys today including a trip to Wonford hospital and back. It really is a battle.”

Allan Cooper, chairman, Budleigh Salterton Voluntary Car SchemeAllan Cooper, chairman, Budleigh Salterton Voluntary Car Scheme

Allan Cooper chairs the Budleigh Voluntary Car Scheme. “We do the best we can to cover all the journeys, but it’s not easy,” he said. “We’d love to do more. Social appointments are very important to people with mobility problems, and there are all sorts of lunch clubs and other events they could be interested in, but if we can’t get them there and back, they can’t go.

“As it is we’re doing around 100 trips a month in the area we cover, and we’ve been going for 25 years now. We really want to keep it going if we can.”

He and Mr Hurlock are both concerned that the shortage is putting a strain on the existing drivers, which could lead to even more of them dropping out. They are making an urgent appeal for local people who can spare even half a day per week to come forward and offer their services.

Mr Hurlock said: “We’re open to anyone, of any age, so long as they have their own vehicle, a licence and comprehensive insurance. And we can fit in with people’s own lives, it doesn’t have to feel like an onerous duty.”

Allan Cooper, chairman, Budleigh Salterton and District Voluntary Car SchemeAllan Cooper, chairman, Budleigh Salterton and District Voluntary Car Scheme

Anyone who can help is asked to contact TRIP on 01404 46529.

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