Volunteer Car Service: an essential Lifeline

Volunteer Car Service in action

Since 1994, Westway CT (formerly Kensington and Chelsea Community Transport) has run a Volunteer Car Scheme. At present, a team of ten volunteers powers the service, and last financial year they conducted 971 trips. The volunteer car scheme is a vital service that helps Westway CT Members access vital services, such as doctor’s appointments. This helps fight isolation and loneliness that elderly people can experience We interviewed June and Joyce about their thoughts on the service. You can watch the full interview here or read this abbreaviated version below.

Taxi’s vs Volunteer Car Scheme

We asked them why they preferred the volunteer car service. Joyce explained how Taxi fares for people in her income demographic couldn’t afford taxis. She explained that often for certain trips she needed the taxi to wait for her, while she did an errand or attended a service, and that often Taxis wouldn’t do this, but even if they did, they would charge her. This, she argued, was a main reason she preferred Westway CT’s Volunteer Car Scheme. She stated how the Westway CT’s service would wait for her and wouldn’t charge, and thus she would get both a trip and driver waiting for her at one affordable price.

Finding Out About The Volunteer Car Service

During the interview, we found out how the members learnt about the Volunteer Car Service. Joyce learnt about the service by asking Westway CT’s staff. She explained how the bus service to Kensal Green drops you outside its entrance, but to get to the church for the service is around a 2-mile walk. She realised she needed a taxi, but no taxi would stay in the service and wait for her. So she rang the office and asked if a taxi like service was available? Which it was, and she got a volunteer car to the funeral.

June found out about the service through recommendations from friends at the dance class she attended. June explained how she has bad Athritus and how her doctors had instructed her to do regular exercise to help manage it. She stated how she loves dancing and always has and regularly attended line dancing class to help manage her Athritus. She originally got a lift from the class instructor so she could attend. As she attended, some classmates were getting community cars to get to the class. Once she found out, she joined Westway CT and got a volunteer car to take her.

High Praise for the Volunteer Car Service

We asked the members if they would recommend the Volunteer Car Service and why. The resounding feedback was yes, and they described it as a fabulous service.

June said the service was great for her wellbeing. She also said couldn’t get to classes without it.

Joyce agreed. She said the service was better than taxis, as it would wait for her. The drivers are vetted and you feel safe with the drivers. She highlighted how the service and the drivers were very reliable and courteous.

June added how the volunteer drivers are very knowledgeable about the local area. How they navigate the side streets to avoid busy roads. She continued and recounted how one of her first trips a driver took her home. At first, her driver’s choice of route confused her. When she realised why, she was even more impressed with the service. The driver had taken a different route. This ensured she could exit the car facing the kerbside. Thus, she didn’t need to rush and/or worry about traffic.

A Vital Service for This Generation

Joyce finished the interview with some powerful remarks about the importance of the service for her generation.

“To be honest, you know if they were to stop the service. We people, in my generation, would be a lot poorer. A lot poorer in both health, mental welfare, you can mark it all down. It makes a whole world of difference to our generation to have that service available.”

This highlights how the volunteer car service 28 years of service has been a vital lifeline for many elderly residents. It helps them escape loneliness and isolation that can become common for people in their generation. Thus helping them remain healthier both mentally and physically and overall improving their quality of life.

Can You Help Us Fight Loneliness and Isolation?

Last year our 10 volunteers helped elderly people get out and about an amazing 971 times. Though we want help even more. At points we can’t do some trips as we don’t have a volunteer free. This stops some users from accessing vital services. Can you help us stop turning down these trips?

If you have a few hours a week, a full UK driving license and 2 years’ experience, you could help an older person escape isolation and loneliness. You can use your own car or ours. We cover both fuel and out-of-pocket expenses.

So what are you waiting for? Fill in the form below and join the fight and let’s tackle loneliness and isolation together.

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