Community bus service in dire need of support

Helen Kennett and John Douglas appealing for volunteers

Helen Kennett and John Douglas appealing for volunteers

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A COMMUNITY bus which provides a vital service to the elderly is at breaking point and desperately needs new helpers.

Age Concern Eastbourne is appealing for volunteers to drive its six-seater minibus, providing door-to-door transport and an escort for the town’s elderly. Of its current crop of four drivers, two are on three-month holidays and another is unable to drive because of illness, leaving the volunteer group stripped to its core.

Transport administrator for the local charity John Douglas said, “It’s almost more of a social thing and they like to spend a couple of hours in each other’s company having a good old chat. It’s really a very valuable service.

“It gives them an excuse to get out of the house. They benefit greatly from having that impetus. The alternative is a taxi to and from the supermarket. But we take them, wait for them outside and get them back home again and I imagine a taxi would certainly cost a lot more.”

For £6, a passenger is picked up from their front door and driven either to Tesco in Langney Shopping Centre off Kingfisher Drive or Sainsbury’s in Lottbridge Drove. Shoppers are then chaperoned around the supermarkets for up to one hour and a quarter and driven back to their homes where volunteers help them to unload.

The service runs from Tuesday to Friday, both morning and afternoon.

Stephen Lloyd MP said, “The community bus service provided by Age Concern Eastbourne offers a vital service to many of its members. It would be a real shame if they have to restrict its use through a lack of volunteer drivers. I would encourage any readers of the Herald who feel they maybe able to help out Age Concern contact the charity.”

To volunteer you must be younger than 70 and hold a D1 driving licence, allowing you to drive a vehicles with a maximum of 16 passengers. For more information call John Douglas on 638474.