What is Community Transport?
Community transport offers a safe and accessible service for those who are unable to travel independently or use public transport. In rural areas, the elderly may not be able to drive and so community transport is a vital service to enable them to live their lives to the full and remain active in their local community. This form of transport service is generally a not for profit service run by volunteers and paid staff. In some cases professional drivers are also used.
Community transport schemes generally involve local members of the community such as volunteer drivers to support them called a voluntary car scheme. Some schemes also provide what is known as a ‘Dial a Ride‘ service whereby a passenger requests a pickup time, and they are picked up by an accessible vehicle or minibus.
Why Community Transport Matters
The UK population is an ageing population. As a result, isolation and loneliness is increasing across the country. This can have a detrimental effect on the mental health and quality of life of the elderly. Isolation itself can lead to a negative impact on health, disturbed sleep, increased blood pressure and a general decline in cognitive ability. Community transport keeps people engaged and connected at a time when they need it most.
Loneliness is an increasing concern among the elderly. Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health. Lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity.
Believe it or not, but loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by 26%. Almost three-quarters of older people in the UK are lonely and more than half of those have never spoken to anyone about how they feel (according to a survey carried out for the late Jo Cox commission on loneliness). The poll by Gransnet, the over-50s social networking site, also found that about seven in 10 (71%) respondents (average age 63) said their close friends and family would be surprised or astonished to hear that they felt lonely.
The Increasing Need for Volunteer Drivers
Without volunteer drivers, members of the community who rely on community transport would find it difficult to get to where they need to be. Volunteer driver’s greatly assist in ensuring community members maintain a high quality of life. Without the drivers, services would grind to a halt, and society in general would suffer across the country.
Volunteer drivers do more than just drive passengers around. They provide:
- door-to-door rides
- a door-to-door service
- one-to-one escorting for the vulnerable
- assist with shopping and parcels
- become friends of the passengers they serve
They also ensure social inclusion and confidence especially for the elderly as they get to where they need to be.
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