11:00AM, Sunday 02 August 2020
People to Places, the Maidenhead-based accessibility charity, has received £6,000 from the Louis Baylis Trust, which will help it step up its dial-a-ride service while maintaining new, COVID-safe practices.
During the pandemic, People to Places altered its services to reflect the times, dialling down its dial-a-ride service, while running a shopping and prescription delivery service to people shielding indoors.
“To a great extent the funding will go on developing on getting the usual services up and running again,” said Peter Haley, chief executive of People to Places.
Shopmobility, the company’s outlet providing wheelchairs and powered scooters, has also reopened. Peter said it is doing much better for the fact that people are back on the high street, returning to about 20 per cent of the amount of business it used to see before the pandemic.
The charity is now looking at making physical alterations to its minibuses, in order to make them safe for people to use.
This includes installing Perspex screens between the driver and clients, as well as air filtering to clean the air inside the vehicles, alongside standard surface cleaning.
These extra safety measures could allow the charity to use its minibuses more often, and potentially hold more riders.
“If we had up to two households, or bubbles, in our large mini buses at opposite ends, there will be a long distance between them.
“That’s about four people in the large bus, compared to about 16 people we can fit in one of the larger minibuses,” said Peter.
“Economically this isn’t going to make sense but we’re going to have to find a way through that.
“Because we have lost fare income – it’s not zero but it’s close to it, and our funding came to a quick stop – this donation is an absolute necessity.
“We’re OK at the moment but we don’t know how long we’ll have to have only four people in the minibus.
“That will have a massive impact.
“We have got some mini buses off road but we still have to insure them and we have got to have a skeleton staff who can’t be furloughed.
“We’re very fortunate to live in an area with a Louis Baylis Trust. It’s an unusual thing, and a lot of my colleagues [in other areas] are struggling.”
People to Places intends to continue offering its shopping and prescription delivery service for as long the service is needed.
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