Project puts volunteers in the driving seat

A LIFELINE linking people living in isolated parts of Northumberland is being expanded, following a successful pilot in the north of the county.

The Getabout scheme is operated by the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) and uses volunteer drivers in their own cars to provide door to door journeys for people who are unable to use their own private transport or conventional public transport.

Now, following a grant of £10,600 from Northumberland County Council to roll out the scheme to a wider area, more drivers are being sought to make life easier for those with no other means of getting out and about – whether it’s to doctors’ appointments, to visit friends or simply do some shopping.

All volunteers who sign up to be a driver for the scheme need to have their own car and will receive full training, support and expenses and all volunteering is flexible and can be fitted around the volunteer’s availability.

Opportunities are available for weekend and evening volunteering to fit around work commitments.

Coun Alan Armstrong, the county’s Executive Member for Highways and Transport, said: “In a large rural county like Northumberland, voluntary car schemes can make a vital difference to the quality of life for some of our residents who would be otherwise isolated.

“This is why the county council is supporting this initiative and hopes that people will take the opportunity to volunteer and help local people where they can.

“I know that where this scheme already exists, it is greatly appreciated by the passengers that use it and that the volunteers also gain a lot from it in terms of improving their skills, making friends and gaining personal satisfaction that they are doing something extremely worthwhile.”

Carol Nevison, Service Delivery Manager for WRVS, said: “The Getabout service is a much needed lifeline to many people living in communities in Northumberland.

“The service relies on a strong volunteer base to operate and to be successful so we are urging anyone who thinks this may be something they would be willing to do to please get in touch to find out more about how the scheme operates and how we can work together.”

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or would like some more information about what it involves, contact Roz Tinlin, WRVS Getabout co-ordinator, on 07834 753387 or e-mail Roz.Tinlin@wrvs.org.uk

Alternatively, please call the WRVS office on 01835 864789.