A group of villagers in Inkberrow has been running a community transport scheme for a number of years. Covering Inkerrow and surrounding villages such as Cookhill, Flyford Flavell and Abbots Morton, the scheme is run under the auspices of Evesham Volunteer Centre.
A group of five volunteer drivers offer transport to older and vulnerable people who cannot access public transport and who would otherwise struggle to get to appointments. The drivers will help people get to medical appointments, such as hospital and GP appointments, dentist appointments, hair appointments and shopping trips. In fact, according to local co-ordinator Elizabeth Collins, the service provides “anything that the client needs”. On average the drivers do around 3 trips per week and there are around 20 clients who regularly use the scheme.
The scheme provides a key transport system for the villages and enables older people to maintain their independence within their own communities. But the scheme is more than just a means of providing people with transport and Elizabeth strongly rebuffs the idea of being taxi service. The drivers are often asked to “go the extra mile” and do things like accompany a client to a hospital appointment to provide some moral support. This therefore means that the volunteer transport scheme also has an important role to play in supporting people on a much wider basis and in tackling issues such as loneliness and social isolation.
Local knowledge of the clients is key to making the service run effectively – by understanding their clients’ needs the co-ordinator is able to ensure that the best service is provided. For example, Elizabeth knows that some of her older clients struggle with their mobility and therefore tries to ensure that they can access community divers with higher vehicles.
The transport schemes costs clients 45p per mile to cover the travel costs of the volunteer drivers. There is also a very small administration charge to over the costs of coordinating the scheme. All drivers are DBS checked through Evesham Volunteer Centre, which also handles the payment system and insurance is provided through the drivers’ own insurance at no additional cost.