Bid to boost community bus service

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A COMMUNITY bus service relied upon by elderly and disabled people needs more volunteers to help it expand across the district.

Billingshurst Community Transport, which provides urgent and non-urgent travel for elderly, disabled and frail residents across the area, is looking for volunteers in order to help more people.

A team of 50 volunteers provide mobility support for over 550 passengers in Billingshurst, Ifold, Kirdford, Plaistow, Loxwood and Shipley, which gives them easy access to hospitals and more freedom to carry out their daily tasks.

The scheme has been running for eight years, but is now looking to expand its transportation service to other rural areas in a bid to help more residents in need.

Ken Johnson, founder and chairman of Billingshurst Community Transport, said: “In the years that it’s been running, the scheme has played an intrinsical part in the Billingshurst community.

“I really don’t know what would happen if we were to go. This scheme is not just a taxi service.

“These people aren’t just dropped at the hospital, all are taken to the hospital of their choice.

“We drive them there, we carry their bags, we walk them into the hospital and we make sure they get to the right place.”

Ken explained how the role of a volunteer driver is an ‘extremely flexible and easy one’.

“Most of our volunteers drive when they want to. The commitment is entirely up to the driver and whenever it fits in with their time.’’

He added: “Our goal is to encourage more volunteers from Barns Green, and expand our service into this rural area and others in the hope to help more people.”

Residents wanting to use the service are asked for a small yearly subscription of £5, and each mile travelled is charged at 50p.

Local journeys of no more than four miles are set at £2. For medical appointments a companion is able to travel free of charge, and the driver will wait to make the return journey.

For more information about volunteering phone scheme co-ordinator Lynne Murray on 01403 787696 or visit www.billingshurst-community.org.uk