New funding saves local transport service

A personalised transport service for vulnerable people has been saved after Realise charity provided new funding.

Staffordshire-based Realise charity has stepped in to fund The Door 2 Door service – a project of VAST – which provides vulnerable and isolated residents of Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent with local transport. The service was at risk of closing down due to all Staffordshire based community transport schemes having funding withdrawn earlier this year.

The service, which has run in Staffordshire for almost 30 years, uses volunteer drivers to allow people to access local amenities, attend appointments or enjoy social activities, helping to reduce social isolation amongst those who may be unable to access public transport.

Will Nixon, Trustee of Realise charity, said: “We’re delighted to be able to help Door 2 Door continue its important work in the community. It’s easy to forget that local transport is about more than just getting people to their appointments or to the shops – the service also helps to decrease loneliness, tackle isolation and it provides people with a better quality of life.”

Andrew Thompson, CEO of VAST, said “We are very grateful to Realise charity for enabling this valuable service to continue. Never before has the issue of community transport been so vital in enabling vulnerable and isolated people engage in everyday life. We look forward to working closely with Realise to develop the service.”

Tony Simpkin, 72, from Bradwell, has been volunteering with the service for seven years. He said: “I love talking to and meeting people. This service helps a lot of isolated people, so being able to drive people around and listen to them brightens up their day. It’s magic to do this every day.”

Realise charity has supplied one year’s funding, with the option to extend for an extra year, to ensure the scheme maintains its service to vulnerable people in Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent. The service currently travels around 16,000 miles each year and provides volunteering opportunities for 10 drivers.

Realise is committed to supporting local communities through skills, jobs and health. The charity, together with Aspire Housing and PM Training, aims to build resilience and break down the causes of poverty in North Staffordshire and Cheshire.

Door 2 Door Co-ordinator Margaret Dobell has been organising the service for 19 years, and still runs the project alongside Volunteer Administrator Sheila Rushton.

Margaret commented: “The service not only benefits those who use it but the drivers too. They enjoy meeting and helping people as well as the social element of being part of the drivers’ network.”

Door 2 Door is looking for more volunteers to join the driver network and expand the areas it is able to cover into the whole of Stoke-on-Trent.  If you are interested in finding out more please visit www.vast.org.uk or call 01782 621936 and speak to Margaret to find out more.