Community transport works across the Christmas period, even on Christmas day, to provide those who would otherwise be alone with access to family, friendship, company and independence over the holidays. This December, we’re going to be sharing the stories of our members who go above and beyond at Christmas.
Sally Jones, Northampton Volunteer Car Scheme:
Christmas is a very busy time of year for our car scheme and a large amount of preparation is done in the weeks leading up to Christmas: informing passengers to book their journeys early, making their bookings and allocating them to volunteer drivers.
An important role of the scheme and our volunteers is the safeguarding of our passengers. The main office is closed between Christmas and New Year, therefore we make sure that our volunteer drivers have a next of kin contact number for their passengers, to ensure that, should they not answer the door, our safeguarding procedure can be followed to make sure the passenger is safe and well. During this time we also make sure the passengers have their volunteer driver’s phone number should their appointment be cancelled or they are unable to attend for any reason.
We have just expanded our services to provide transport for well-being appointments, which enable us to take passengers to a broader range of well-being services and activities. This includes passengers who, due to illness or disability, are unable to get to these appointments themselves, who need assistance or may be socially isolated. These well-being services and activities include day centres; support and social group sessions; lunch clubs; libraries; falls prevention; fitness classes and much more.
We believe this service will be especially well received over the Christmas period to assist passengers to access the support groups and well-being classes that they need, as well as play a fuller part in their local community, remain active, and help to prevent social isolation and recourse to public health services.
Many of our passengers live alone and rely on the scheme. Our latest passenger survey feedback showing that 91% of respondents thought the scheme was a lifeline and it is particularly important over the Christmas period.
Our volunteer drivers offer much more than transport, they provide an invaluable source of support to passengers. In addition to the health benefits of easily being able to access medical appointments, with the increased security, independence and other mental health benefits that this provides, passengers receive a lot of care and reassurance from the contact with their drivers. Our volunteer drivers help to alleviate the isolation that some passengers face, and all work hard to put people at their ease and make them feel comfortable
All drivers have enhanced DBS checks and safeguarding training to ensure they can support passengers fully, physically, morally and emotionally. They are a friendly face and a listening ear to many socially isolated people within the community who are often anxious about medical issues, age related issues, isolation and loneliness.
We aim to support our volunteers and passengers all year round and are proud that we can provide extra support to them over the Christmas season.