An update on the Scheme and a plea for help from Sheila Stephenson
As many of you will know our scheme is currently very busy. It is open to help anyone who needs taking to essential destinations within a reasonable distance and who has no other means of transport. We calculated at one point we were going to 74 different essential destinations over a year and in March this year alone drove 2,333 miles to meet essential needs! We would like to stress here – that all our drivers and co-ordinators are volunteers, each with their own family life to support. Our co-ordinators do a fantastic job and when I recently needed an emergency dentist appointment, amazingly managed to find me a driver in hours. I was truly grateful.
This month however we are putting out an emergency plea for some more help to run the scheme successfully. Sadly, Nicky has had recently to stand down after a lot of years of amazing work both co-ordinating and driving. It was she who created the fabulous dog which we still keep as our logo! Hopefully one day she will be back to help us again. And here comes our first plea. We urgently need a new co-ordinator – or more if that is possible.
As you will know, all the calls go to the co-ordinators. They then get in touch with our drivers, usually by phone or email, and enter the results into our personal computer system. Just as important, the co-ordinators deal with callers sympathetically and practically. If you feel you could help with this co-ordinating role please contact me, Sheila, and I would be very grateful to take things further. All expenses are reimbursed. All problems are sorted out.
Our second plea is for more drivers to help out. As you can see from the distance covered in March, we have done a lot of miles, but we cannot afford to wear our drivers out who all have their own busy lives to work round. Thus we urgently need some more drivers. Currently we have about 22 active drivers but this is not nearly enough. The driving is all done like everything else by volunteers, but the petrol/diesel is reimbursed at the current HMRC tax rate of 45p per mile. Drivers get reimbursed in mileage expenses from their own front door and back again. Thus we try and find drivers as near as possible to the passenger. Currently we have no drivers in Dry Drayton at all although we often get asked for sometimes daily runs to hospital. All drivers need DBS checking and we can help sort that out.
Recently I have been asked twice if a person is eligible for the scheme. The answer is almost always YES, as long as it is for an essential purpose. Currently we are still asking passengers to wear masks etc. Children under 16 must always be accompanied by an adult; and occasionally adults need someone to go with them. The co-ordinator can help sort this.
Passengers pay £3.50 for a very local run like the surgeries and 30p per mile for longer runs such as the hospitals. The passenger is asked to pay the driver in cash for each journey. The County Council reimburses the driver the extra 15p per mile, via our excellent treasurer.
Well this is quite enough from me. We really do urgently need this extra help with both the co- ordinating and the driving. Please, please do think if you can help in any small way. I and the team will be so grateful. The scheme has run successfully for many many years – please help us to keep it running for a good many more. If you have any questions do ring me, Sheila, on 01954 210638. I will be delighted to hear from you.
Current list of Co-ordinators
If you need a lift from the car scheme, please ring one of the following:
Cheryl Phillips – 07908 023 836;
Gillian Stott – 07464 069 483;
Lizzie Coe – 07387 395 296;
In emergencies or for general information only:
Sheila Stephenson 01954 210 638.