A campaign has been launched to find volunteer drivers who can help those people who struggle to access public transport.
Bosses at Ryedale Community Transport are making the public appeal as they expect demand for their services to increase if the proposed cuts to the bus subsidies by North Yorkshire County Council are eventually given the green light.
The charity, which was recently given £276,000 of lottery funding, has a small team of volunteers who operate cars, mini-buses and wheelchair carriers, taking people on journeys, ranging from medical appointments and shopping trips, through to family visits and social occasions.
The service collects passengers from their door, takes them directly to their destination and then brings them home again.
There is no charge for the volunteers’ time but passengers are asked to cover mileage costs.
Ryedale Community Transport launched its campaign for new drivers at its Annual General Meeting last month.
“We anticipate an increasing demand for our services and we shall always need additional volunteer drivers,” said manager Steve Mellalieu. “Without them the scheme would be impossible for us to run and so many vulnerable residents would become isolated in their own homes.”
The hours are extremely flexible, he added, allowing drivers to offer as much or as little time as they have available and when it suits them.
Drivers are especially needed in the Helmsley, Kirkbymoorside and Pickering areas.
One driver who has volunteered since May 1996 is Tony Welham, of Norton.
He signed on with the charity after taking early retirement and admitted to feeling “bored stiff.”
“I had a very intensive interview. She said, ‘can you drive?’ I said ‘yes’ and that was it!”
Tony will have three to four trips a week, mainly taking passengers to hospitals at Hull, York or Scarborough. “I enjoy it so much,” he said. “You get to meet so many interesting people and they really appreciate what you are doing for them. I’d suggest people give it a go as you will be surprised how much you enjoy it.”
Friends Pat Kimber and Ena Hoyle signed up four years ago as they wanted to give something back to the community and those people who may not have much contact with the outside world.
Pat said: “I have one lady who I don’t get a chance to get a word in edgewise because she just wants to talk. You become friends with them and it gives them security.”
Call (01653) 699059 to find out more about volunteering.