In Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme, VAST’s Door2Door Community Transport Service is doing everything it can to help those who are vulnerable, lonely, or isolated to get out and about in the community.
The scheme, together with the help of 15 volunteer drivers, supported an average of 60 people with over 100 journeys every month before lockdown.
When local authority funding for community transport across Staffordshire was withdrawn, the future of Door2Door was uncertain. After much fundraising and some greatly appreciated donations, Staffordshire-based Realise Charity stepped in to offer their help to the service and the residents who use it. This funding ensured the scheme could maintain its service to vulnerable people in Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent.
But it’s not only formal appointments for which the Door2Door provide journeys, it can be anything from shopping to community activities to social events, and much more. The service provides transport to vulnerable people who are unable to use public transport, enabling them to:
- Attend non-NHS health-related appointments such as optician and dentist services,
- Carry out errands such as shopping and banking,
- Access hairdressing and other services,
- Visit local friends,
- Engage in local social clubs and activities and,
- Access vital public services including local council and benefits services.
In addition to getting to and from these appointments and activities, the benefits of community transport to the public are significant:
- Reducing loneliness and isolation
As a sector, we do what we can to tackle this growing issue within our local communities, to improve the lives of the residents within them. But still, almost a fifth of the UK population say they are always or often lonely. With a staggering 44% of over 80’s living alone and, 14 million people living with a disability, it’s hardly surprising that the most isolated are the elderly and the disabled. This doesn’t mean that it is only the elderly and disabled are lonely or isolated, it reaches much, much further. Research by the Co-operative and British Red Cross shows that almost half of young mum’s aged 18-25 always or often feel lonely and that more than 80% of mums under 30 say they have met their friends less since having their child.
Community transport schemes have a crucial role in the fight against loneliness and isolation, a problem that the voluntary sector face right across the country. A comprehensive study by ECT Charity proves just how vital the role is, outlining why community transport matters and the enormous impact it has in local communities.
- Improving mental health and wellbeing
When the things we enjoy doing, and the people we enjoy doing them with, are no longer a part of our lives, then naturally our mental health will suffer. Having access to a community transport scheme like Door2Door is vital to getting out and about, participating in the community, and being mentally-well.
- Becoming or remaining independent
Remaining independent in adulthood can be challenging for vulnerable people; the elderly, those with disabilities, people living in poverty, or families living in areas of deprivation can find it hard to remain independent for multiple reasons.
Simple things like getting your own shopping, meeting up with friends or getting to the hairdressers, are all part of being independent and these are exactly the kind of things Door2Door are helping people to do.
- Increasing confidence and self-esteem
Reducing loneliness and isolation, having improved mental health, and becoming more independent; these all contribute to our levels of confidence and self-esteem. Being able to do more and get out more often makes us more confident in ourselves and have more self-worth.
Improving mental health increases confidence, allowing the opportunity to get out more to get socialising, therefore, reducing loneliness and isolation. Improving in just one area can help to increase the feeling of self-worth and in turn, improves mental health and wellbeing. This is a circle of positivity that has community transport at its heart, and Door2Door is the local transport service that has community at heart, empowering vulnerable people, promoting independence, improving mental health and wellbeing, and reducing loneliness and isolation in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme.
To find out more or book a journey, visit the Door2Door page on the VAST website. Or alternatively call 01782 621936 between 09:30 am and 12:30 pm Monday to Thursday, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just like the Community Transport Association, of which Door2Door is a member, “we are for, and about, accessible and inclusive transport” by providing accessible and inclusive solutions in response to unmet local transport needs.
The service couldn’t run without our amazing volunteer drivers and we’re always looking for more people to join the team! All you need is your own car and a small amount of time to spare. This is a fantastic opportunity to help vulnerable people in your local area, and you can enjoy meeting with other volunteer drivers at one of the regular driver meetings. All expenses are reimbursed, and the role is flexible so you can provide as much or as little time as you can spare. But rest assured, you will be joining a great team of exceptional volunteers and making a huge difference to local people who could otherwise become lonely and isolated.
So, if you enjoy meeting new people and being a part of your community, get in touch on 01782 621936 or email email@example.com.