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Burnham's Good Neighbour Scheme seeks more volunteers

A scheme providing transport to hospital and other medical appointments for those unable to travel unaided is seeking more volunteer drivers.

The Good Neighbour Scheme, which was started in the Seventies and came under the umbrella of the Burnham Community Association (BCA) in 2003, sees volunteers use their own cars to make the journeys.

Tom Arthur, who has been driving for three years, said: “I started to drive for the Good Neighbour Scheme when I fully retired about three years ago.

“I drive on average about once a week, but it depends on the need for drivers and how many other commitments I have.

“I like the arrangement because of its flexibility – I don’t need to make a fixed commitment.

“I enjoy the company of the people I drive for – they have all lead interesting lives, even if they are not so mobile now, and they are usually cheerful and happy to tell you about their lives.

“I learn something new on most trips.”

Marie Rawling, a regular user of the service, who has multiple sclerosis, said: “I am so very grateful for the service as otherwise I have to rely heavily on taxis as I can’t access public transport.

“It is much safer than getting a taxi or bus as they stay with you all the time and are so friendly.

“It is lovely to be able to talk to someone whilst you are waiting for your appointment and I always feel very safe.

“I am so grateful for the scheme and I highly recommend it.”

Under the scheme, a co-ordinator managing bookings checks if a driver is available for each journey, before contacting the client with their name and details.

Drivers then will contact their clients, arrange a pick-up time and discuss whether they will drop the individual off and return later or wait at the appointment.

Drivers also assist clients with their own wheelchair and with borrowing a chair from the hospital if needed.

Clients are asked to make a contribution to towards the costs of running the scheme, to ensure that no drivers are left out of pocket.

For more information about how to volunteer, contact co-ordinator Dr John A East on john_east@talk21.com

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