Supporting Community Transport

A new community transport scheme to help people from a rural area to access their GP appointments and other vital services has been supported by the Steve Morgan Foundation.

Conwy Voluntary Services Council (CVSC) is delivering a volunteer-led community car scheme to provide transport to elderly, disabled and young families in rural areas who don’t have their own transport to access medical and other essential appointments.

The Steve Morgan Foundation has provided a grant of £50,856 over three years to support the work of the charity’s Volunteer Co-Ordinator.

“Whilst there are many health and wellbeing benefits of living rurally, the pitfalls of rural isolation for older generations and the vulnerable residents of our community have been demonstrated in studies identifying a strong link between social isolation and declining health,” says Maria Jones, who has filled the role of Volunteer Co-Ordinator. 

“Based in both Betws-y-Coed Surgery and Cerrigydrudion Surgery, we are setting up a pilot scheme where a vehicle will be shared and used to provide residents who are already unable to arrange any transport to access their GP appointments.

“Once we have the GP appointments up and running successfully, the vehicle could be used for accessing other “wellbeing” needs depending on the availability of the vehicle and the volunteer drivers.”

Margaret Griffiths, aged 92, cuts the ribbon with Maria Jones

The project, initiated by Geraint Davies of the CVSC, has been awarded a three-year grant of £99,000 from the National Lottery to cover vehicle leasing and running costs, with the Steve Morgan Foundation now supporting the vital role of organising the volunteers on a day-to-day basis.

“We are delighted to be supporting this Community Car Scheme in Conwy, which will have a really positive impact on the lives of people without access to transport around the local area,” said Jane Harris, Director of Regional Funding with the Steve Morgan Foundation.

“There are many elderly and disabled people living in rural communities, and also young families, who have been unable to access important medical appointments as well as other services such as dentists and opticians, and even day-to-day activities such as shopping or visiting relatives who are in care.

“There was an example from one village where there was just one bus a week on a Tuesday afternoon, resulting in the GP surgery being over-run with patients arriving and needing to leave at the same time, leading to rushed appointments and stressed patients.

“A collaboration between the CVSC and several different agencies has helped to establish this community transport service, using a leased wheelchair-accessible vehicle, and volunteer drivers’ own cars.

“The aim is to develop coordinated appointments and bookings from the same area, starting five days a week and then extending to weekends and two evenings when sufficient volunteers are sourced.

“The project is being delivered by a steering group of volunteers, to be coordinated by the role funded by the Steve Morgan Foundation, along with professional help and support from the Community Transport Association.”

The new community car providing transport across the area

There is already excellent engagement for the project from within the various local communities, and the aim is to have 240 beneficiaries making regular journeys by the end of the third year of funding.

“We have been overwhelmed with the number of volunteers coming forward to support our scheme and are very excited to see this project moving forward so quickly,” added Maria.

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