Be a real life superhero – be a volunteer driver and give your community a lift

The campaign will appeal for more community transport volunteer drivers and for communities across Oxfordshire to set up new community led transport schemes.

Councillor Rodney Rose, deputy leader of Oxfordshire County Council said:  “Passengers describe community transport volunteers as “a fantastic support”, which is why we are appealing for more of these local superheroes to come forward. Volunteer drivers are considered heroic by those they transport. It is clear that giving up a small amount of time can make a really positive difference to individuals within a community. Community transport schemes have for many years been supporting those who, due to age or disability, may find it difficult to get around.”

Each year more than 60 community transport schemes in Oxfordshire play an important role by helping thousands of elderly and disabled people across the county access hospital appointments, collect prescriptions and enjoy social events.

The schemes rely on the support of the 1,300 local volunteers who give up their time for the benefit of their communities, providing 25,000 lifts each year to those who may not have easy access to transport.  As the county’s population ages, demand for community transport is increasing year-on-year and more volunteer drivers are needed.

How much time do volunteers need to give?

Volunteers often use their own cars, are always in control of the time they give and are paid a mileage rate to cover the petrol and running costs of their vehicle. Others drive scheme-owned minibuses, for which full training is given.

Jacqui Oldham who helped to set up Community Transport Scheme, the Didcot Volunteer Centre back in 1987 said: “In the Didcot Volunteer Centre a volunteer can offer as much time as they are prepared to give. Some drivers do only one or two drives a month while others sometimes undertake two a day. The Centre goes to great lengths to ensure good practice and the volunteers are well looked after”.

Wantage Independent Advice Centre Car Scheme co-ordinator, Wendy Watson said: “I always tell my drivers first and foremost that the time they give to the scheme is entirely up to them.”

Giving to your community

Volunteers often get a huge amount of personal satisfaction from volunteering in their community in this way.

Pat Chirgwin, Volunteer Link Up (West Oxfordshire) said:  “I wanted to make a difference in West Oxfordshire, to ensure that those people who needed a little help received help.  And that’s what we do – we ‘link’ people with time to spare with those who need their help.  And when it works, it makes us all feel really satisfied that we have been able to help someone.”

For more information about how to become a volunteer driver or to find out if there are community transport groups in your area, contact the Community First transport team on 01865 883488 or visit www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/volunteerdriver

[i] Amongst other community led initiatives, Community First Oxfordshire helps to develop new community transport schemes and offers on-going advice and support to existing schemes.