Supporting the older generation

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000


The Community Car Scheme helps people who cannot easily access mainstream public transport due to age or disability stay independent for longer by offering car journeys at heavily subsidised rates. The Scheme relies on 4 vehicles (2 of them wheelchair accessible) and 20 volunteers drivers. There are currently 2000 registered users making an average of 130 trips a week. Users take advantage of this scheme to attend classes, gym sessions, church services, to visit friends and family, local markets and generally to continue to enjoy what London has to offer. This in turn helps people stay healthy both physically and mentally and prevents social isolation and depression. Being a relatively small and local scheme, users build up a rapport with both the office staff taking their bookings and the drivers donating their time to drive them around, this also encourages elderly and disabled people to be more active as they no longer feel stressed by the difficulties they face when trying to make their travel arrangements. There is no limit to how far people can travel, as long as we can find a volunteer willing to drive. Volunteers can drive for as little as an hour a month or as much as several days a week, they can drive one of the scheme’s 4 cars or they can drive their own, we aim to be as flexible as possible so that we can help as many people as possible get out and about.
If we were successful in being awarded a grant of £25,000 we would use it towards the purchase of a new wheelchair accessible vehicle for the Car Scheme. Despite the large number of trips that we successfully deliver each week, there is also a portion of trips that we are not able to fulfil, sometimes this is due to the lack of volunteers being available, but more often than not this is mainly due to the lack of a vehicle being available. The two oldest (wheelchair accessible) vehicles were purchased in 2003 and the other two 'newest' (standard saloon cars) date back to 2008; the fleet is thus subject to regular break downs and is getting more and more costly to repair and keep roadworthy. Every time a vehicle breaks down, vital journeys have to be cancelled. Whilst these journeys are certainly not a matter of life and death, they are still of the uppermost importance for our clients as they are often the only chance they have during the week to go out, meet friends and family or attend classes to keep their bodies or their brains agile. When listening to the feedback from our users during focus groups or interviews for promotional material that we release, it is amazing to realise the enormous difference such a little project makes in people’s life. Clearly even if only one of the 4 vehicles was to be scrapped, we would have a 25% reduction/impact on the number of journeys we would be able to fulfil and this would result in more vulnerable people having to curtail their activities and being less mobile due to the lack of affordable transport, especially because the most battered vehicles are the wheelchair accessible ones. As an organisation we are quite used to fund-raise but unfortunately it is getting more and more difficult to fund-raise for capital costs. This problem is also compounded by the fact that traditional funders do not consider transport to be a ‘sexy’ enough proposition to subsidise and often overlook the fact that transport is a means that makes many other activities possible. The current economic climate has made the situation even more serious and difficult to operate in as charitable organisations are regularly asked to deliver more with considerably less resources available. Unfortunately it does not look like the situation will improve in the near future, on the contrary, with the move towards commissioning as opposed to funding from local authorities, it will be services like the Car Scheme that will find it increasingly difficult to raise much needed capital funding to continue to operate at their current levels.

Westway CT

Location: Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster, England, United Kingdom

We are proud to have been a stepping stone for many volunteers who have driven for the scheme whilst gaining confidence to then move on to paid employment or who simply needed to feel useful to society whilst unable to work for a variety of reasons. We believe Communities also improve as a result.
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