Volunteers’ Week has ended, but the support and hard work of the Westway CT Volunteers’ continues all year round.
Philippa Middleton, also known as Pippa, travels to Westway CT by pushbike every week and donates her morning to drive members of Westway CT’s Volunteer Cars. Volunteer Cars is a one-to-one car service for people who find it difficult to use public transport and live in either Kensington & Chelsea or Westminster. The service is supported by a team of around 40 amazing volunteers who go out of their way to reduce loneliness and in turn improve the health and well-being of local people.
I met Pippa at our recent Westway CT Coffee Morning. I had seen Pippa coming in and out of the office many times, but we had never had a lengthy chat, and I didn’t know much about her. I asked if I could come along on one of the mornings when she was driving the Volunteer Cars.
I joined Pippa on a beautiful Thursday morning, the sun was shining, and there wasn’t much traffic on the road. We collected one of the Westway CT members and drove her around the local area, to visit the bookshop and to pick up some bits on Portobello Road. It was an enjoyable trip. At each stop, Pippa and I had a chat while we waited and I found out that Pippa has been driving the Volunteer Cars for over three years and she had seen the volunteering opportunity advertised in the flyer included in the RBKC Parking Permit renewal pack. Pippa is a young, energetic woman who lives a very healthy lifestyle; a semi-retired Mum of three children, who are all grown up now and starting to raise their own families. Super fit and very active, Pippa has taken part in some triathlons, run a marathon, walked the Inka Trail and once rode 400 kilometres from the Taj Mahal to Pushkar, for charity. Born in Leicestershire, Pippa and her family have lived in many different cities around the world including San Francisco, Auckland, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Brussels, and London. After leaving Art College, Pippa worked as an au pair in France and was also an air-hostess for British Caledonian Airlines before meeting her husband and marrying. I asked what the negatives to volunteering for Westway CT were and Pippa said, “The process to apply was lengthy because of the DBS (CRB) checks”. I explained that it was now a much quicker process than it was three years ago and new volunteers no longer had to wait so long for the checks to come back. When asked what the positives were Pippa responded by saying, “It isn’t difficult at all and helping others makes me appreciate my life. There are a lot of things in life I can’t do, but the one thing I can do is help people”.
It was such a lovely morning out on the road, and I enjoyed the time spent with Pippa and the Westway CT member. I have to say that I was immensely inspired and very motivated after hearing Pippa’s life story. It was also great to be out on the road and see how Westway CT’s Volunteer Cars make such a difference to people’s lives, including those who support it.
Being able to go out is something that so many of us take for granted and Westway CT’s Volunteer Cars service is so much more than just a transport provision taking someone from A to B, it’s a support service that reduces loneliness and enables people to live independently, and those things are indispensable.
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