Volunteer drivers are often the life blood of local communities, working to support charities and community groups they help people who are isolated and without private transport to access support and activities. Often without the support of volunteer drivers people would be unable to get out of their homes and would lose social contact with their community and friends entirely.
Many community groups use volunteer drivers, either using their own cars or using minibuses, but many utilize the support of Community Transport schemes. Community Transport schemes come in many shapes and sizes, they can be run through a local authority, set up as an independent charity or operated as a project of a larger charity. Whatever the set up the aim is always the same, to provide affordable transport to people who are unable to use private or public transport to get out and about.
John Tizzard is one of the many people who give up their time to drive for a Community Transport Scheme. Following a career as an HGV Driver John felt that once he retired driving minibuses was an obvious fit for him, after talking to his local Volunteer Centre he chose Community Transport over the other driving opportunities that were available. Volunteering for a couple of days a week John says
“As a volunteer minibus driver, I get to take groups out for day trips, pick up individuals and take them to their clubs or groups. Sometimes they need the bus because they have to ride in a wheelchair and need use of the tail lift for access, as some folks do if they have walking problems.”
When asked why he volunteers John says
I get a lot of satisfaction and I also get a good feeling that I have helped people that are worse off than me. Plus I enjoy their company.
Val Sweetlove is another Community Transport driver. Val uses her own car to transport clients to places they want to go ,i.e,shopping, doctors or to social events. She volunteers because she says
“I want to be of use to my local community, there is a great need for us all to help each other. Now that I have retired I have the time.”
Talking about the benefits of volunteering she says
“I have gained so much from the wonderful people I meet, their wealth of knowledge is unique, I also have a lot fun, listening to the stories of their lives, and perhaps giving them someone to talk to. Often the volunteers are the only people our clients see from one week to the next.”
Volunteer drivers are needed all over Essex, all you usually need is a clean driving licence, if you are interested in driving a minibus then you may also need a D1 on your licence (issued as standard prior to 1998). Depending on the role there may be upper and/or lower age limits (usually for insurance reasons). if using your own car mileage is usually reimbursed so you shouldn’t be out of pocket.
If you think that driving could be for you – find out about local roles by selecting driving in a search on this site or contact your local Volunteer Centre to discuss further.