Local charity Cotswold Friends is putting out a plea for drivers in the North Cotswolds and Cirencester areas, as the demand on its Community Transport Service continues to increase.
Over 1,600 people living in the Cotswolds use Cotswold Friends’ Community Transport Service, with more than 12,000 journeys undertaken by the charity’s volunteer drivers last year for medical, social and practical reasons – that’s over 230 drives on average every week of the year.
Jo Hammond, CEO of Cotswold Friends said, “With many hospitals catching up with appointments after the pandemic, plus the roll-out of this season’s COVID and flu vaccinations, many of our older, vulnerable clients are needing transport to medical appointments right now.
“This is putting pressure on our existing volunteer drivers and our Community Transport service as a whole, which is vital to so many older and vulnerable people who do not have access to public transport or find it difficult to use.
“Volunteering is enjoyable and rewarding, and there is so much to be gained from it. Our drivers tell us that they feel more connected to their community and enjoy meeting new people, often making friends for life.
“Drivers are paid up to 50p per mile which significantly helps with the running costs of their vehicle. You'll be at the heart of delivering our mission to reduce isolation and support older and vulnerable people to live independently in your local community in the North Cotswolds and Cirencester areas.”
Keith Rogers is a Cotswold Friends volunteer driver in the village of Willersey.
Keith says: “Once you retire and the pressures around you drop, you look for something you want to do, not need to. Being a volunteer driver gives me an opportunity to not only benefit my community but also myself.
“Social interaction with people, who often don’t socialise much, brings pleasure to both parties. I’m sure the drivers get as much out of it as the passengers. What better way to bring a bit of sunshine into both their and my life.”
Carolyn Roberts is a Cotswold Friends volunteer driver in the village of Hazleton.
Carolyn says: “I was interested in becoming a volunteer because my mother lived alone in a tiny hamlet with no public transport, and when she stopped driving, she was very isolated.
“What I enjoy about volunteering for the charity is the chance to meet other people in the locality and discovering local communities that are new to me.”
Keith Baalham is a Cotswold Friends volunteer driver in Cirencester.
Keith says: “I was interested in becoming a volunteer for Cotswold Friends because I wanted something to do in my spare time and to help the community.
“In terms of how volunteering has been helpful to me, at my age, it’s not about the practical benefits but the pleasure of helping others and, in so doing, meeting new people.”
A driving role at Cotswold Friends provides complete volunteering flexibility. Drivers can let the charity’s Booking Office know when they want to drive and what types of journey they are happy to do; some drivers like local drives, others prefer longer journeys.
If you think volunteer driving could be for you, get in touch with Cotswold Friends’ Volunteer Manager, Sheryl Murray, on 01608 697007 or email volunteering@cotswoldfriends